Most of the vintage horror paperbacks in my collection are a lot more fun to look at than they are to read. I should know. I plowed through as many as I could last year before landing myself in a reading rut; fatigued from an overdose of absurd plotlines and bad writing. Lately, I’ve had more success with modern novels while peppering a few old pulpy Paperbacks from Hell in-between. My latest choice, PIN by Andrew Neiderman (1981), proved a pleasant surprise. Despite featuring many of the fantastical elements of your typical ‘80s horror paperback, there are interesting psychological twists as well. Consequently, PIN is more sophisticated than many in its genre.
Leon and Ursula grow up in a privileged household headed by their emotionally unavailable father who’s also the community physician. He practices medicine in an office adjacent to the family home and the kids often watch him work which, in itself, seems weird. Among his office trappings is a translucent, anatomically correct male mannequin, affectionately referred to as PIN. PIN’s purpose is to teach patients about their bodies and bodily functions. When he’s off-duty, PIN communicates with the kids while also serving as their sex toy when they get older and start experiencing what their father refers to as, the Need. After their parents die unexpectedly, the young adult kids decide to move PIN into the main house where everything seems perfect until Ursula lands herself a boyfriend, threatening the trio’s dynamic.
This book was discussed in Grady Hendrix’s Paperback from Hell (2017) but I forgot his witty synopsis when I pulled my old copy off the shelf. Not wanting to get burned by a bad book, I decided to read the first chapter and then decide if it was worth getting into. I’d end up plowing through over 100 pages in my first sitting. Considering the book is only 264 pages, that’s a pretty significant chunk. Obviously, I’d made the right choice. While the book’s eroticism no doubt reeled me in, it was Neiderman’s flowing narrative that kept me there.
Midway through, the book transitions from guilty pleasure to psychological drama. I’ve mentioned in previous posts that Andrew Neiderman is one of my favorite Paperback from Hell authors and this book reinforced my admiration. I have quite a few more of his books on my TBR list and I may have to put them on the fast track.
In 1988 PIN would get a film adaptation that I’ve yet to see. I’m really curious how it stands up against the book but, since it isn’t streaming and its out-of-print DVD is currently fetching close to seventy bucks, It’ll likely be a long time coming. The book, however, does appear to be back in print and I definitely recommend it.
Number of pages: 264
The Message: If there’s a medical mannequin in your doctor’s office, be sure to cover its head before you get undressed.
Shelf it or Scrap it?. Definite keeper!