‘What are the possibilities of my strength? That is a thought I have never had before. What if some morning as the old woman stood at the head of the staircase she were suddenly to feel a weight thrusting against the back of her legs? What if she were to lunge forward, grasping at the air, striking her thin skull against the edge of a stair? What would become of me if she were found unmoving at the bottom of the stairway?’
Such are the thoughts of Baxter, a sociopathic bull terrier on the hunt for the perfect master, as he contemplates the demise of his first victim. The basis for the acclaimed 1989 film Baxter, Ken Greenhall’s utterly chilling and long-unobtainable Hell Hound (1977) has earned a reputation as a lost classic of horror fiction.
This didn't turn out to be quite what I was expecting. I guess I thought it would be more like Cujo but with an intelligent brain within the dog, rather than him being rabid. I expected it to be all about the dog and the evil thoughts but that wasn't really what we got.
Baxter was a gift to a woman who didn't greatly like dogs and never wanted to have one. She looked after the dog and got into a routine with him but she never loved him and Baxter knew it. Baxter liked the young woman who lived across the street who was nice to him when he was out for a walk. He dreamed of the great life he would have with an owner who loved him. That is when Baxter starts to wonder what would happen if his owner was to have an accident and die...could he get the chance to live with his dream owner?
The first people we meet are his owner Mrs Prescott and her neighbour Mr Cuzzo. Mrs Prescott doesn't want the dog but is obligated to look after him. She doesn't greatly like Baxter or any human she knows either, sneering at those around her for petty things like being old and sick, looking down on the neighbours every chance she gets. She is a horrible woman and I don't blame Baxter for wanting her dead so he can go elsewhere. Her neighbour My Cuzzo liked her as a kid but holds a grudge over her laughing at him when he was ten, and spends his days watching her for signs of her getting sick or feeble so he can gloat. Ugh! Seriously, I'm rooting for Baxter here!
When Baxter does get to live with Nancy and John, it seems like the perfect place to be but Baxter won't be happy for long. He is unhappy at things changing when Nancy becomes pregnant. Her lovely husband John doesn't like the changes to her body and decides to build a pond as an excuse to stay away from her as much as possible. Charming! Nancy has nagged him about doing something with the garden but now resents the time he spends there. When Nancy goes into labour, Baxter is worried about her pain and John hits him for it. Frankly, I hate John and Nancy as well and again, I was hoping that Baxter would kill them both. Carl lives on the same street and is a sociopath pervert stalker teenager who has no time for his family. He sits beside Veronica at school and she is a stupid little tart who keeps trying to get his attention. They are both obnoxious and their paths will also soon cross with Baxter.
This book has one of the worst human casts I have experienced and I wanted to see every one of them have their throats ripped out by Baxter. I just hated the whole bunch of them and none had any redeeming features. There is animal cruelty from both John and Carl which reinforced my opinion of them. I was also really annoyed by the ending of the book as it was not satisfying at all, and not what I wanted to see happen.
The best parts of this book are the chapters devoted to Baxter's thoughts. I would rather have had a whole book of this than the chapters that were devoted to the dreadful humans he had to encounter. Yes Baxter is a sociopath but I can actually see things from his point of view and have sympathy for his situations. I guess that says a lot about me as a person!
It was a little slow and dull in places, with not enough of Baxter's chapters to keep me interested. I didn't like any of the human cast so I wasn't too interested in their chapters compared to the dogs. This just wasn't what I expected and it wasn't for me at all.
Read July 2017.