Cover image for Pact of the fathers
Pact of the fathers
Campbell, Ramsey, 1946-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New YorK : Forge, 2001.
Physical Description:
414 pages ; 22 cm
General Note:
"A Tom Doherty Associates book."
Format :


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X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Daniella Logan, daughter of a film impresario, is stunned to see a group of robed men performing a ritual above the newly-turned earth of her father's grave. Daniella's father and his friends - politicians, newspaper magnates, highly-paid actors, top-flight surgeons, high-ranking police officials, and many more - are bound by an unholy blood pact that calls for the sacrifice of their first born children. Now, the more she learns, the more Daniella makes herself a target. But she must not besilenced, for she is not the only firstborn in danger, only the oldest.

Author Notes

John Ramsey Campbell was born January 4, 1946 in Liverpool, England. He is a horror fiction author and editor. At the age of 11 he wrote a collection called Ghostly Tales which was published as a special issue of Crypt of Cthulhu magazine titled- Ghostly Tales- Crypt of Cthulhu 6. He continued to write and later published his collection called The Inhabitant of the Lake and Less Welcome Tenants.

At the suggestion of August Derleth, he rewrote many of his earliest stories, which he had originally set in the Massachusetts locales of Arkham, Dunwich and Innsmouth, and relocated them to English settings in and around the fictional Gloucestershire city of Brichester. The invented locale of Brichester was deeply influenced by Campbell's native Liverpool, and much of his later work is set in the real locales of Liverpool. In particular, his 2005 novel Secret Stories both exemplifies and satirizes Liverpoolian speech, characters and humor.

John Campbell's titles include The Doll Who Ate His Mother, The One Safe Place , The Seven Days of Cain and The Last Revelation of Gla'aki.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

A father's betrayal of his child and a heritage of horror on a potentially biblical scale propel the plot of this absorbing new thriller from a leading laureate of terror fiction. Acting student Daniella Logan is devoted to her father, and this adds to her burden of grief when he dies in a suspicious car crash at the novel's outset. The night of his funeral she inadvertently frightens a coven of knife-wielding men away from their inscrutable ritual at his graveside. Daniella's stubborn persistence investigating both events leads to the unsettling discovery that her dad may not have been the man she thought he was and worse, that his surviving friends are inexplicably conspiring to silence her. En route to the revelation of their unthinkable motives, she uncovers an ominous pattern of child deaths in their families, chances on an alternate exegesis of myths of pagan sacrifice encoded in the Bible, and endures a stay in the Greek Islands that turns slowly from safe refuge to menacing imprisonment in the company of one of her father's most dependable cronies. Campbell (Silent Children) tantalizes the reader with irresistible hints of occult machinations, but his true achievement is the depiction of Daniella's hitherto secure world dissolving into a paranoid nightmare where the people whom she depends on most prove the ones she can least trust. The novel's sinister B-movie imagery and sleekly paced frights put a dark gloss on what is ultimately a haunting reflection on the differences that painfully divide parents from children and the intransigence of the older and younger generations. (Dec. 13) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved



ONE The smile the young receptionist behind the steel-grey horseshoe of a desk offered Daniella was by no means purely professional. "Can I help?" he said. "I want to go up and surprise my dad." "I'd like that if I were him, but you'll need to tell me who he is." "Teddy Logan." "Mr Logan." The receptionist lowered his head an inch to regard her under his brows, incidentally presenting her with a better view of the wet black turf of his scalp. A drop of gel glistened on the right shoulder of his collarless jacket, which was only slightly greyer than the desk. "You're his daughter," he said. "Right so far." "Are you planning an acting career?" "I've done a bit. Does it show?" "It mightn't to most people. Nice try, but you missed one detail." "Tell me." "Mr Logan's American, and you'd know if you heard him talk." "You're new, aren't you?" "Not so new I don't know how to do my job." "He isn't going to like you doing it this hard. Why don't you call upstairs and tell him I'm here." "Someone's pitching him an idea for a film." "Call his secretary, then." "You're saying you didn't know she's gone for lunch." "Right, I didn't. Listen, you've been good, but--" He crooked a finger until she leaned close enough for the scent of gel to oil her nostrils. "What would it be worth for me to say you took me in?" "Not much. I'm a student." "I don't look as if I need your money, do I? Just company for dinner." "I've already got a boyfriend." "Must be pretty insecure if you can't accept an invitation for a night out on the town." She was wondering resentfully if the accusation was aimed at her when the glass doors admitted a burst of the rumble of traffic on Piccadilly before sweeping it out again. "Any messages, Peter?" the newcomer said. "Nothing for you or Mr Logan, Miss Kerr." To Daniella he murmured "That's his secretary." "I know. Hi, Janis." "Hi, Daniella." The receptionist struggled to maintain a smile as his words began to flee him. "Excuse me, Miss Kerr, this young lady isn't, that's to say, is she . . ." "She's the great man's best production." "I'm sure. Will you take Miss Logan up to him, Miss Kerr?" "Happy to," said Janis, but stayed Daniella with a negligently half-open hand until the receptionist looked up from the clipboard he'd abruptly found interesting. "Even though she's who she is you'll need to give her a visitor's pass." "Absolutely. I was just--" Just relieved, Daniella thought, that Janis headed for the lift without waiting for his stumble at an explanation. He shoved the visitors' book across the desk for Daniella to sign and crouched off his seat to hand her a plastic badge. "Sorry," he pleaded in a whisper. "I believe you," Daniella said as Janis restrained the lift on her behalf. The box of mirrors full of images of Janis--tall, elegant, sallow, ebony-haired as a film in glossy monochrome--and of herself--slim enough, face too round to be really interesting, small nose that annoyed her by appearing to want to look cute, blonde hair in which last month's rust was lingering--had barely closed its doors when Janis said "Any problems with our new boy?" Daniella remembered how she'd had to search for a summer job--how hard it was for so many people to find work. "No," she said. Janis snapped open her suede handbag to touch up her black lipstick. "So what brings you to town?" "I was supposed to have lunch with my mother, only one of the companies she looks after, their computers crashed this morning. I was on my way out when she called, so I thought I'd use my ticket anyway." "I know Mr Logan will be glad you did. Stop him brooding over whatever's on his mind," Janis said as the doors revealed the London offices of Oxford Films. A carpet greener than grass after rain led along the wide blue corridor. Framed posters from the fifties showed suited people accompanied by slogans that grew less discreet as the decade progressed, until by its end they were promising horrors in bright red before discovering sex for the sixties and seventies. Nana Babouris's face appeared on some of them, and occupied more space as the posters abandoned sex to become steadily braver and weepier. Two posters for Help Her to Live--Nana beaming as she lost a wheelchair race to her adopted daughter for the British market, Nana lifting her high above the child's chair for America--guarded Janis's door, and Daniella recalled using up a boxful of tissues when, at ten years old, she'd watched the film. She grinned wryly and dabbed at her eyes as she followed Janis into the office. Janis sat behind her wide thin pine desk and tugged her charcoal skirt over her darkly nyloned knees as she thumbed the intercom. "Mr Logan? I thought you'd want to know your daughter's here." His response was audible through both the speaker and the connecting door. "I'm on my way," he shouted and flung the door open to stride out, his white shirt bulging with his stomach but not quite straining at its buttons, his arms and his bright blue eyes wide, his bushy eyebrows crowding creases up his high forehead all the way to the temples that used to boast more of his grey hair. He hugged Daniella and rubbed her spine until he yanked her T-shirt out of her jeans, and she did her best to match his fierceness, however overstated she'd begun to find it recently. "Good to see you too," she gasped. "That isn't the half of it. You're a picture." With some reluctance, as if he hadn't finished assuring himself she was there, he left off hugging her and led her by the hand into his office. "Say, you can be the audience," he said. Beyond the window flanked by posters a bus without a roof passed soundlessly, its sightseers turning their backs on the Logans with a movement so unified it might have been choreographed to gaze across Green Park towards Buckingham Palace. Fat bags of soft black leather sprawled on the tubular frames of chairs in front of and behind her father's massive antique desk. A man with a briefcase gripped between his gleaming coaly brogues sat perched on the edge of the chair facing the desk as though he was afraid to relax. "Isaac Faber. He wants to make movies," her father said. "Isaac, meet my only child." The man sprang up to shake her hand, nearly tripping over the briefcase, and sat again at once. His scalp was only slightly hairier than his unshaven chin. His pudgy youthful face was doing its best to be ready for whatever came next, and she felt sorry for him. Her father sat on a couch and patted the portly cushion beside him, and said as she joined him "Try and sell my daughter. She's your target audience." "It's," Isaac Faber told her, "well, as I was saying, it's about searching for a myth." "Who's doing that?" "That's right. I mean, it's interesting you ask. I was thinking while you fetched your daughter, Mr Logan, it could be a knight, Arthurian, he could be. Brought to life by magic or he's been in like suspended animation till people need him again." "That part sounds better," Daniella's father said. "He sets out to look for others like him," Daniella was eagerly informed, "but he can't find any, so he goes searching for what people believe in like they used to believe in the Holy Grail. And he finds the world's more savage than it was the last time he was alive. The only myths left are success and wealth and power, and people will do anything to get them." "Sounds pretty true." "But would you pay to watch it?" her father said. "I don't know," she had to admit. "Sounds like no to me. There's your answer, Mr Faber, from a young lady who goes to the movies every week. People need myths to live by. That's why The Flood broke records. My daughter and her friend Chrysteen saw it twice." He was directing a thumbs-up at the posters for the film, the ark balanced on a dripping mountain-top beneath a rainbow, the column of Oscars--best cinematography, best effects, best original song (The Engine Of My Heart: "No oars, no sails, just the engine of my heart . . .") all dwarfed by the image in the clouds of Shem (Daniel Ray) embracing Sarah (Nancy Hilton). "We fancy Daniel Ray," Daniella said. "That's what movies are about, Isaac, giving people what they want, not what you think they ought to. Lots of animals and fart jokes for the kids, and romance for the ladies, and action for us men, and spectacle for the family, and wonder on top of it all to send everyone out feeling they've been somewhere they want to go back." "I thought you might want to consider investing some of your profits in a movie that could earn you a different kind of award." Daniella's father grew monolithically still, as he did on learning she'd behaved in some way he thought wrong. Whatever she might have dreaded he would say to Isaac Faber, it wasn't "Want to teach me about investments too?" "Only--" "Some of the television companies have public money to risk is what I hear. Try them. Now if you'll excuse us, it's been too long since what's left of my family had a talk." Isaac Faber grabbed his briefcase and stared at it until he was out of the chair. "Thanks for your time," he said, his attention shuttling between his listeners, "and your advice." He closed the door with a painful gentleness before making a rapid escape. "What a monster," Daniella's father said. "I didn't think he was that bad." "Not him. Me." "You were only doing your job. You're still my usual dad." Nevertheless he'd given her the chance to ask "What's the matter?" "What should be?" "I'd say you had something on your mind." "Plenty of room for it." When the quip didn't turn her gaze aside he said "I guess, I guess I just don't understand how anyone could think I'd care to put my name anywhere near the kind of message that guy wanted to send. Maybe you can tell me what I must be doing wrong." "Nothing I know about." He reached out to her with the hand that used to sport his wedding ring, but refrained from touching her. "I wish you'd told me you were coming." "Don't worry, dad, I wasn't trying to catch you out." "At what? How do you mean?" "At nothing. That's my point." "I meant Mr Faber could have waited and we'd have had lunch," he said, tramping to his chair behind the desk. "So how's your work shaping up?" "I like having to act and not just being a waitress." "Your university work, Daniella." "Good." He rubbed his forehead, but the creases stayed as deep. "You didn't need to get yourself a summer job. You could have come home to me and had more time to study." "I don't need more time, honestly, and I want to earn a bit. You always said how hard you had to work to get a break." She could have added that she valued her independence, but she knew that wouldn't please him. "I thought you'd be happy I got a start in life." She didn't expect to see his eyes grow moist and turn upwards as his hands closed into fists on either side of his gold pen standing tall in its golden holder. She could only assume he was growing nostalgic. "Anyway," she said, "don't you want me to use my student house when you bought it for me?" "Make the most of it, yes. I know you're doing that, even if you could ask your tenants for more rent. I know they're your friends, but that's all the more reason to do business properly with them." He drew a breath that reddened his face and blurted "Listen, Daniella--" He could hardly have been inviting her to hear the footsteps that became audible just as the door was edged open. "Teddy, we need to talk," the newcomer declared. "Oh, hello, Daniella." He was her father's partner Alan Stanley, and she didn't believe he hadn't known she was there. He stalked past, lanky and stooped and round-shouldered, bestowing scents of soap and after-shave and deodorant on her, and leaned down to grip the edge of her father's desk. "It's been long enough," he said. Her father lifted his hands as though to seize his partner by the lapels and pull him conspiratorially close. Instead he muttered "I'll be with you in a minute." "Don't let anything prevent you." Stanley laid his gaze on Daniella as he retreated to the door. "Please," he said. Her father seemed anxious, but not to stand up. "Will you wait till I'm through?" he said to her, barely a query. "Then I'll drive you back and we can talk. No, you'll be bored waiting." He turned to the safe and typed the combination fast as a stenographer. "You go shopping and be back in let's say two hours." "Thanks, dad, but . . ." As he lifted out a wad of twenty-pound notes she saw a slim white wooden box at the rear of the safe. "What's that?" she said. "My wad for emergencies." "Not the money. The box." "Nothing." His face appeared uncertain whether to grow pale or red as he shut the metal door. "How much shall I give you?" he said, hurrying around the desk. "As much as you want, only dad, I'm not going to be able to stick around that long. I have to get back to meet someone this evening." "Someone." "Right, someone I know." "With a name." "Blake." "Which end of the someone is that?" "His front. His first name." "You don't know the rest of him?" "Of course I do. Blake Wainwright." "Have I heard of him?" "I've only known him a few weeks. He's okay." "You think you can know a person in that short a time? I guess it depends how you mean knowing." "Not the way the Bible does." "Don't, either, if you care whether I sleep nights. You won't thank me for saying this again, but it isn't like it used to be when I was your age and you could go to a clinic if you had to. These days sleeping round can kill you, and let me tell you your mom and I never did. Never slept with anyone till we were married." His concern for her had grown even more stifling since her mother had divorced him. She saw him waving notes at her like a fee for keeping herself pure, which seemed almost as demeaning as the reverse. "Maybe I won't either," she said with some resentment. "I pray it's more than maybe. Keep faith with me over that at least. You're enough of your own person to have that respect for yourself. This Blake of yours, you can't know if he's been with anyone else, can you? Even if he says he hasn't." "Believe it or not, I haven't asked." She saw her father preparing to worry the subject further, but she'd had a good deal more than enough. "I thought you had to talk to Mr Stanley," she said. "I have to talk with you." For a moment he looked paralysed by the conflict, only the skin around his eyes moving, and then he snatched a sheaf of notes off the wad. "Take this anyway," he said, planting the money in her hand. "It'll help you keep me in mind. Spend it however you like." It must have been at least two hundred pounds. He threw the rest of the wad in the safe, which he shut again so fast she scarcely glimpsed the white box. "You don't have to give me this," she said. "It wasn't why I came." Excerpted from Pact of the Fathers by Ramsey Campbell All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.