Pressure by Jeff Strand comes in just under 250 pages total but it doesn't seem that long. Why? Because you don't want to stop reading. Time will stand still as you get drawn into the story.
It's not often an author creates a character that I can so easily identify with but Jeff pulls it off with the main character, Alex Fletcher. I so easily identified with Alex that when something bad happened to him in the book I wanted to hit the author with my copy. Don't worry, I calmed down. Jeff Strand is in no danger.
If you are more familiar with Jeff's humorous work then you are in for a shock. Pressure doesn't have his sense of humor in it. This is a straight forward suspense novel that will put you on edge. If you are not familiar with Jeff's funny side then look at The Horror Contests page where I'm giving away an autographed copy of his "Funny Stories of Scary Sex".
The story takes place in four phases during the life of Alex Fletcher. Each phase deals with the pressure he experiences due to his interactions with Darren Rust. Remember the creepy kid in grade school that you just knew would grow up to be a psycho? That's Darren. It's made pretty clear at the beginning that Daren just isn't right.
Phase I - Sneaking out to peek in the back door of a strip club. Playing card games when you should be studying. Dreaming of growing up with your best friends and learning that one of them just might be crazy.
Phase II - Going to college. Meeting girls. Running into the grade school friend you thought was crazy. Learning that with the right amount of pressure he can get you to do what he wants, no matter how you really feel.
Phase III - You finally got rid of your "friend", matured and found yourself happy in life. What is that your daughter brought home from the playground? Didn't your "friend" have something like that? This cannot be happening.
Phase IV - Friend or not, this has to end. Now. No price is too high when you have suffered this much. It's time to put the Pressure on your so called friend instead of allowing him to put it on you.
Don't be surprised when you see yourself in this book. Don't be alarmed when you relate to the characters and know their pain. Be terrified when you realize this could happen to you.
Yes this made the re-read list, but not too soon. I need time to get over the emotions from the first reading before I read it again.
Looking for a good scare that doesn't involve vampires, ghosts, ghouls and/or the wolf man? This is the story for you.
Special "Thank you!" to Jeff Strand for allowing me to quote the following from Pressure:
If it's ok with you I would like to quote the following:
I motioned for Jeremy to stop. We stood there for a moment, listening to the sounds coming from the bushes. They weren't loud, and I couldn't quite tell what they were.
They sounded sort of....wet.
Jeremy put a finger to his lips, and together we began to walk toward the bushes as quietly as possible.
The wet sounds continued, vaguely reminding me of my mother peeling the skin off a raw chicken.
Jeremy held up three fingers, counting down.
"Gotcha!" Jeremy shouted as we simultaneously pushed through the bushes.
Darren cried out and threw up his hands.
A few drops of liquid hit my face.
There was a moment of absolute chaos, as Darren frantically scooted away from us, and Jeremy's face registered pure horror at what he saw, and I was suddenly overwhelmed by a smell that was far worse than the dumpster outside the strip club.