Bargain Basement Book Club :: Horror & Thriller

June 5th 2013

BBBC#1: June 2013

Need something to read but are short on cash? The Bargain Basement Book Club have waded through the dollar bins of secondhand book stores so you don’t have to. Whether they come up with pearls or discarded old boots, they’ll help you find the treasures that await in the murky depths of the literary world…


The four sat around a table, secondhand books clutched tightly in sweating hands. A single candle flickered, threatening to extinguish as they looked at one another, and a realisation struck them.
“Where is Nikki?” they said in unison.

A phone in the corner of the room rang ominously. Everyone jumped at the sound. Daniel stood up and walked to the phone.
Heavy breathing answered.
Daniel turned to the others.
“The one you know as Nikki is gone,” a chilling voice said.
Beads of sweat fell from his forehead.
“Wh- Where is she?”
The heavy breathing continued.
“… Japan. You’ll have to start the Book Club without her this month.”
The line went dead.
The candle blew out.
Everyone screamed.

There was a click and the lights came on. Jess was standing by the light switch.
“Should we get on with the reviews then?” she asked.
“Yes,” Daniel said, relieved. “Just give me a sec while I change my pants.”


Baa Baa Dead Sheep by Jill Bennett

Reviewed by Jessica Hamilton

‘Nothing prepared Beth for what she saw. Her feet were standing in a pool of red. George Lamb was dead as mutton.’

Baa Baa Dead Sheep tells the tale of a school theatre group in the midst of a murder mystery after their caretaker, Mr Lamb, is brutally slaughtered by a falling bucket of fake blood.

I found it for $3.50 in Goulds, Newtown, where I had been hoping to lay my hands on a classic horror. Realising that the point of the Bargain Basement Book Club is not to separate the sheep from the goats, I instead scoured the spines for a title so horrid it sent shivers down mine and ended up with this one.

Between funerals and dress rehearsals (because murder aside, the show must go on), Beth is on a mission to discover who amongst her friends has pulled the wool over everyone’s eyes and is really a homicidal wolf in sheep’s clothing.  In doing so she spends a lot of time alone in the dark theatre, pondering ghosts, killers and cute boys.

“Wednesday inevitably followed Tuesday.”

When you shear it back this is a tale of love, trust and friendship overcoming adversity. All’s wool that ends wool, as they say, and complete with expected twists and turns the mystery is solved. The real tragedy of the tale is that after all they’ve been through Beth’s crush repeatedly tells her that they are just friends.

This is fantastic book to read if you want to nod off quickly. Much more fun than counting sheep.


Dr Jeykyll & Mr Hyde by R.L. Stevenson

Reviewed by Daniel Prior

“…Oh, my poor Henry Jekyll, if ever I read Satan’s signature upon a face, it is on that of your new friend.”

I was sick in bed when my girlfriend brought me this book along with a bucket of Codral. Like most people, I already knew the story of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde. I couldn’t wait to read the original story about a man who becomes a grotesque monster that…

Actually, I had no idea what the story was about, only that Dr Jekyll drinks a potion and turns into some hulking creature that terrorises London.

Turns out, even that isn’t correct.

The story follows an unassuming lawyer, Mr Utterson, who is an old friend of Dr Jekyll. After he is told that a character known as Mr Hyde knocked over a passing child and paid off the family with a cheque signed by Dr Jekyll, Mr Utterson begins investigating the infamous Mr Hyde, fearing that Hyde is blackmailing Jekyll.

“If he be Mr Hyde,” he thought, “I shall be Mr Seek.”

Hyde’s actions reach further levels of depravity, ultimately culminating in murder. Utterson pleads with Jekyll to turn away from his friendship with Hyde, but Jekyll only ever replies with vague answers. It is not until the second last chapter of the book that Jekyll and Hyde are one in the same. As I said, everyone knows the story by now, however I suspect it would have come with quite a shock to the books first reader, as it is well hidden throughout the story.

The book ends with a final letter from Jekyll to Utterson, and it is in this last chapter that R. L. Stevenson writes in detail about the inward battle between Jekyll and Hyde; the fight between right and wrong, abstinence vs indulgence, good vs evil. This may be a common subject nowadays, almost to the point of boredom, but this was written in 1886, a time when character and reputation were everything.

“I hazard the guess that man will be ultimately known for a mere polity of multifarious, incongruous, and independent denizens.”

Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde feels, as with most old horror books, a bit dated; particularly in the language. But while the story may be a well-used (albeit unfamiliar to the original) one, the concepts explored are deep ones and will leave an impression.


Poodle Springs by Raymond Chandler & Robert B. Parker

Reviewed by Mina Kitsos

My initial arrival was as close to Philip Marlowe’s as goon is to 80 year old red wine; no Fleetwood convertible, no silk-clad femme fatale to greet me upon arrival and about as much hard-boiled investigative fervour as a poorly scrambled egg. Coupling my most badass crooked smile with a betraying meander, I finally found myself peering tentatively at the dusty mass of orphaned literature, which had found shelter in the makeshift bookshelves of my local Vinnies. Seconds into sifting through the rubble, I struck gold –  ‘Poodle Springs’, above an image of a couple engrossed in a tender embrace (#FOREVERALONE) and the deal-sealer, “A rattling good thriller…” I handed over the twelve-sided silver in my pocket and skipped home humming MJ’s  “Thriller” in the key of success.

Detective Philip Marlowe knew what he was in for when he married the daughter of a Benjamin-burning tycoon, the breathtakingly beautiful Linda Loring. Moving to their new multi-storey mansion in Poodle Springs, paid in full by Mr. FatherInLaw, Marlowe soon finds there is something amiss. He has no choice but to re-open his detective business, and inevitably places an online order for Pandora’s Box in five different colours.

Marlowe is appointed by the head of an illegal gambling club, Manny Lipschulz, to track down the son-of-a-bitch who ran off with his 100K, celebrity photographer Les Valentine. Marlowe checks in with Valentine’s wife, who is adamant that he’s away on business. But then…. Bang! A former client of Valentine’s is murdered. Clues lead Marlowe to a Larry Victor, coincidentally also bearing the initials L.V.,  and our intelligent anti-hero realises, “Except for the hair, he looked a lot like a picture I’d seen of Les Valentine. And hair can be rearranged“. Unravelled is a dual identity, a second wife, an equally second murder and Marlowe at his most determined. And most witty…

“Do detectives have fights?, Mr Marlowe?”

“Sometimes,” I said. “Usually we put the criminal in his place with a well polished phrase.”

“Are you carrying a gun?”

I shook my head. “I didn’t know you’d be here.”

In 1989, Robert B. Parker finished the novel Raymond Chandler started in 1958, and in 2013, it still prompted a few awkward giggle outbursts. I hope my agitated comrades on the 8am train to Central made an effort to see why “I smiled suddenly, like sunshine on a rainy day”. Sure, there are some cheesy one liners, but it’s a 50 year old pizza. Food for thought.


We’re leaving these books where we found them, with a little somethin’ somethin’ inside from FBi for those who seek them out. Next month’s theme is ROMANCE – send your suggestions to



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