Bedbugs by Ben H. Winters
Publisher: Quirk/Sept. 2011
Alex, Susan, and little Emma Wendt just moved into a new apartment, the second floor of a wonderful Brooklyn brownstone, 1,300 sq. ft, a little under $3, 500/month. Sounds like a steal, right? Maybe too good to be true? It’s perfect for their little family of three, and even if Andrea, their new landlord, seems a bit strange, it’s nothing they can’t handle. Alex’s photography firm, specializing in jewelry, is up and coming, and it’s been successful enough that Susan has quit her job to stay home and take up painting again. It’s idyllic at first, until strange things start happening, and Susan eventually becomes convinced the apartment is infested with bedbugs. Everyone else, including professionals, says otherwise, but Susan has seen the bugs, and felt the bites. Unfortunately, she’s the only one. Is Susan going crazy, or is something more sinister at work?
If you’re someone that gets squirmy reading about teeny little bugs, brace yourself. Bedbugs is a rather short book, but the author manages to pack some serious dread into those pages. Honestly, at first, I didn’t like Susan all that much. Not working, at home with a 3 year old, and she hires a nanny to take Emma off her hands while she proceeds to get…not much done, accept for a few errands and unpacking the house. Ostensibly she’s supposed to be painting, and eventually she does. In fact, she goes on quite a little painting spree that ends up having sinister results. Then there’s her odd landlord, who seems to have quite a few secrets of her own, a friendly but somehow imposing handyman sort of seems to lurk in the background, and it doesn’t help that Alex is becoming more sullen every day. I was absolutely convinced that Susan was going batty, but it’s not so simple, and that’s the fun of this chiller. Slow dread builds into out and out terror, and it’s a heckuva ride. You’ll probably devour this one in one sitting, if you can keep your skin from crawling long enough. Get out your bug spray and give this one a try. There’s a lot to love for thriller and horror fans alike!