[Book Review] A FACE IN THE CROWD/THE LONGEST DECEMBER – A Double Punch Of Literary Excellence

Author Richard Chizmar has quickly become one of my favorite writers – I was first introduced to his work with GWENDY’S BUTTON BOX, a collaboration with Stephen King that would grow into a trilogy of novels that just recently wrapped up with the release of GWENDY’S FINAL TASK – discovering Gwendy led to a much more important find though – it led me to the writings of Mr. Chizmar.

One afternoon while wandering through Barnes and Noble I came across CHASING THE BOOGEYMAN – a recounting of a fictional crime spree in Chizmar’s very real, and not-so-distant past – I swallowed that novel in one delicious gulp – so, needless to say when I caught wind of new release heading our way soon – I reached out and was granted audience with an ARC of the upcoming release – another collaboration of a sense with Stephen King – but not really. Allow me to explain.

Heading our way in early 2023 will be this truly unique tome – two novellas– literally published back-to-back with A FACE IN THE CROWD written by Stephen King and Stuart O’Nan on one side – and when you flip the book over, you’re going to be treated to THE LONGEST DECEMBER – by Chizmar. I love the packaging on this collection (Double the Chills, Double the Thrills the heading exclaims) but more importantly – I love the writing.

While it is obvious that a new work by King is going to grab the attention of fans –as this will be the first time A FACE IN THE CROWD appears in print and don’t get me wrong, it’s a great story but, I found myself completely enthralled with THE LONGEST DECEMBER by Chizmar and if I may take a little artistic license – I’m going to spend most of the time with you here today to discuss this story.

Playing out like an Advent calendar of thrills and surprises – THE LONGEST DECEMBER leads us on a day-by-day recounting of how a life and a friendship can be changed literally overnight. We meet and quickly fall in love with Bob and Katy Howard – a couple living a great life, in a great town, and who are best friends with their next-door neighbor – James Wilkinson until one night, right after Thanksgiving when they are awakened when their street fills with police cars and they find their lives forever changed.

In a searing tale of love, trust, truth, and lies – Chizmar grabbed my hand and led me on a journey that was unlike anything I had experienced up till this point. While short in length, this story packs a novel-sized punch and he – with a deft touch and just the right amount of “push” ushered me through a series of surprises and revelations that entertain as much as they shock – and left me breathless by the time I got to the last sentence.

I love a story that not only surprises but – moves me and THE LONGEST DECEMBER does that and more – the excitement, the mystery, the pain, the loss – not just of life but of innocence and trust – it is so starkly addressed and glaringly revealed – you can’t help but flip the pages as fast as you can.

The work of a true master storyteller.

I can’t urge you strongly enough to pick up this great release – and while you’re getting yet another masterwork by Stephen King with the help of Stuart O’Nan with A FACE IN THE CROWD – when you flip that sucker over you’re going to find yourself face to face with one of the best novellas this fan has ever read with THE LONGEST DECEMBER and the name Richard Chizmar etched in your mind from this point forward.

This release hits on March 23rd, 2023 but you can CLICK HERE and pre-order it now and if you haven’t yet figured it out – I strongly recommend you do just that.

Dave Dreher
Co-Founder / Lead News Reporter at Gruesome Magazine
Dave is co-founder and lead news reporter for Gruesome. Dave has built his resume working for Diabolique Magazine, The Horror Channel, Horrornews.net, House of Horrors and Creature Corner. He has worked with Tom Savini on his official site since 1997 and is also co-host of the popular podcast Horror News Radio.