What a great pleasure to read this re published story some 30 years after the initial print run . In some ways I had become weary with the horror genre and was hoping that something fresh could grab my attention and rekindle my enthusiasm. The Happy Man is a classic edgy horror story that follows the fortunes of one suburban San Diego resident Charles Ripley. His everyday life is about to change when newcomer Ruskin Marsh and alluring wife Sybil move into the recently sold property next door. Charles is drawn unexpectedly to the charismatic lawyer Marsh a happy gregarious character not only an expert on art but also insatiable in his pursuit of young delectable females. The writings of the Marquis de Sade feature predominately in the world of Marsh and Charles offers himself as an eager scholar keen to understand and indeed partake in violent sexual acts depicted by De Sade.
What I particularly loved about this story was the build-up from a seemingly sedate middle class development to a world with no barriers where murder and sexual deviation are accepted as the norm. Was Charles Ripley prepared to sacrifice his home, job and wife in pursuit of excitement to feed his ever increasing need for gratification under the auspices of Ruskin Marsh? This is a great example of how horror can be used to structure the every ordinary day into a place of evil and pleasure with no responsibility nor limit. Many thanks to the good people at Valancourt Books for providing me with a gratis copy in exchange for an honest review. This small independent company specialize in rare neglected and out of print fiction promoting authors and works that might otherwise remain unknown. Recommended.