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"...an unusually serious work from this wildly creative, entertaining, and provocative writer. Get ready to get your heart broken, this one's for real."
Stephen Boone has a problem. If he doesn't stop drinking, he will die. But for this washed-up writer, putting down the bottle is not so simple. Along with the sweats and shakes of alcohol withdrawal, Stephen Boone sees dead people -- ghastly images of the future where men, women and children are about to die horribly.
They appear at his sick bed, these victims of disease, misadventure and murder. Old women with twisted necks, infants dying in their cribs, anonymous people swinging at the end of ropes.
Stephen Boone is a man who knows too much. In the delirium of alcohol, a woman and child have come to him, the victims of a fiendish act. Stephen sees them, feels their agony, understands the horrific details of their deaths. And that secret knowledge has made him a suspect in the killings that have rattled this small Maine city. To prove his innocence, Stephen will have to put the booze down for good and face the grisly specters of sobriety.
Excerpt from "Delirium Tremens"
His skin was hot and he fancied that bugs skittered across his chest. Weak, almost unable to move, he slapped feebly at invisible creatures and tried to scream. The motion made his heart quicken and he stared around the faintly glowing room in search of a savior.
There was none. The only hope was the vestiges of sleep that never lasted long. Withdrawal was a gray place between the real and the unreal.
And now the old woman was with him, a corporeal weight on his bed. There was nothing dreamlike about her. He could feel the potato sack heft of her scrawny frame at the edge of the bed, just below his knees. He could smell the starch of her uniform, sharp and penetrating. And oh, how vivid she was to look at. Her presence seemed more pronounced the longer he stared.
The neck was dark in contrast to the white dress and pale skin of the face. Boone fancied he could make out a bulge of bone trying to press through the taut skin. And still, the old woman nodded and still she rocked. Frothy spittle gathered at the corners of her mouth. Boone could hear the thin lips pull apart, and the gush of breath as she began again.
"It is the lord God who helps me. Who will declare me guilty?"
He clutched the sheet in shaking fingers. A high, thin sound escaped his throat. His face pressed against the damp bedding, his head as immovable as his arms and legs. Adrenaline surged and yet his sickened body could not respond.
The old woman stopped rocking and became still. The shrunken apple head rolled on the grotesquely twisted neck. Her eyes seemed to fall on a place just above Boone's face.
She smiled. Thin lips rolled back against gray gums, revealing a dark maw behind them. The eyes squinted and darkened. The lines of her faced pulled together as though a stray thread had been tugged at the back of her head. At the same time, she pulled woven fingers apart and stretched her hands out in the soft gesture of revelation.