It is a mystery to me how there are some authors that continue to write in relative obscurity even though they have more talent than some of their more recognized peers. One such writer who does not receive the recognition and popularity that he so richly deserves is Greg F. Gifune. I have been a fan of Gifune’s work since the first time I picked up one of his books and have never been disappointed. When I got a review copy of Gifune’s next novel, “Rogue,” I knew that I was in for another treat.
Cameron Horne works with some of the lowest of the low members of society. He works with sex offenders, many of their crimes involving children, and ensures that they do not become predators once again. Outside of his work, his life is almost idyllic. He has a beautiful wife who both loves and understands him, a nice house, and a comfortable social standing. One day, though, Horne sees a young man in his backyard and his life changes forever.
After the surreal encounter with the man, Cameron is suspended from his job due to a confrontation with an offender that he does not remember at all. Greg begins to find himself awakened every morning by a car alarm that only he can hear. This coupled with more appearances by the strange man in his backyard (as well as the man’s cryptic advice) and a couple of violent confrontations along with visions of hellish creatures have Cameron beginning to question his sanity. Unfortunately for Cameron, he is soon going to learn that insanity is not the worst possible cause for his fragmenting life.
Madness is a theme that Gifune has explored several times in his works and it is one of the central themes of “Rogue” as well. In this novel, Gifune first settles the reader in by setting the stage with a fairly normal setup. Cameron has a job that puts him under stress but is otherwise fairly unremarkable. He is able to compartmentalize the stress of his job to keep is separate from his personal life. When the first cracks begin to appear, he starts to think that maybe he simply needs a break from the routine of his life in order to refresh his brain. This is something that most readers can relate to from their own lives. Then things take a turn for the worse and Cameron begins to question his sanity. This is something that most readers have imagined at one time or another or at least read stories in the new about. Then, as the apparent hallucinations and lost periods of time increase, Cameron begins to question whether or not there is something else at play here. Something demonic. After all, he works with bad people every day. Although he has never been a religious man, he now comes to believe that good and evil may actually exist and that he has been infected by one of his evil clients. Is this a case of demonic possession or is this simply a symptom of one man’s cracked mind. Gifune never really seems to answer that clearly but rather leaves it for the reader to decide.
I am starting to think that Greg F. Gifune may just be too good. That could be the reason why he has not soared in popularity as his obvious talent would merit. Most horror novels aim to scare the reader but Gifune seems to take a different approach to horror. You see, Gifune does not really scare me. “Rogue” is a great example of his talent and his unique ability to handle the written word. This may be his best novel so far (although I do have an affinity for “The Bleeding Season” but it is very close) as it is maybe the best example of what I think makes Gifune so good. Gifune does not write horror. He creates it. He plants a seed in the reader’s mind through his books that does not come to full bloom until a little later. I like a Greg F. Gifune book upon finishing it. It is not until later that night when my mind will not spinning and I am too scared to sleep that I realize just how good the book was and come to love it. “Rogue” is quite simply a great book by one of the best writers around today.