The Babysitter by Andrew Coburn


The Babysitter, Andrew Coburn, 1979

My favorite quote: “What I’m saying, Mr. Wright, is we don’t know who the hell she was. We don’t even know for sure Paula Aherne was her name.”

Most interesting characters: Paula Aherne, the babysitter; John and Merle Wright, the parents of the missing child; agents Cooger and Spence, the investigators

Opening scene: John and Merle Wright return home from seeing a movie to find their babysitter slaughtered and their baby missing. Needless to say, I was 100% invested on page one. No easy feat, but Andrew Coburn makes it look easy. I would have liked to see a little more blood, and perhaps a severed head or at least a protruding butcher knife, but meh — I guess you can’t have it all

Greatest strengths: Andrew Coburn’s depiction of Boston’s North End sent me to a different time and place. His descriptions of the city’s seedy underbelly made me feel like I needed a bath. A long hot one with one of those scented bath-bomb thingies that makes the water all fizzy and tickly. But one that smells like pine or gunpowder or tobacco or steak or something so I feel can still feel all manly about it

Standout achievements: The Babysitter (and by that I mean the book and the babysitter herself) is full of surprises. As the story progresses, it’s revealed that the babysitter (the actual babysitter, not the book) has been living a secret life — in fact, Paula Aherne wasn’t even her real name. Well done, Andrew Coburn — I didn’t see that coming …  

Fun Facts: Andrew Coburn was the author of 13 novels, three of which were adapted into films. The Babysitter isn’t one of them — which kinda pisses me off 

Other media: None. Not so much as poorly-made Lifetime version — *shakes fist angrily at whatever Fates have allowed this injustice* There. I did what I could, Andrew Coburn … 

What it taught me: In The Babysitter, Andrew Coburn taught me that extremely brave characters (even if they’re bordering on foolishly so) make for great storytelling. The Babysitter is brimming with such characters. Sometimes you want to shake them and scream, “NO!! I just can’t take it anymore!!” and then you realize they aren’t real and that everyone at your Aunt Florence’s funeral is staring at you and you have to throw yourself over the coffin, weeping hysterically, to keep up appearances  

How it inspired me: While The Babysitter isn’t anything like my own books, it reminds me not to flinch away from letting my stories take unexpected turns. It seemed to work out for Andrew Coburn pretty well in this book. Not his characters, though. It didn’t work out well for them at all. They ended up with a dead babysitter in their living room which — let’s be honest — would pretty much suck

Additional thoughts: Despite the cover art, fans of 80s horror will be disappointed in The Babysitter. It’s a good book for what it actually is (more crime/noir than horror) but unfortunately, the packaging is pretty misleading which irritates a lot of people and makes them leave bad reviews. My guess is that horror was super hot at the time so the publisher coerced Andrew Coburn into approving this cheesy-vintage-horror cover, which probably gave them (the publisher) the idea that they could win all their little battles and letting them think they could wield their power willy-nilly, which likely left Andrew Coburn feeling downtrodden, disenchanted, and questioning his life choices. Just a guess, of course 

Haunt me: alistaircross.com

Read The Babysitter

Published by Alistair Cross

Alistair Cross grew up on horror novels and scary movies, and by the age of eight, began writing his own stories. First published in 2012, he has since co-authored The Cliffhouse Haunting and Mother with Tamara Thorne and is working on several other projects. His debut solo novel, The Crimson Corset, was an Amazon bestseller. The Black Wasp, book 3 in The Vampires of Crimson Cove series is on its way. Find out more about him at: http://alistaircross.com ********************************************************************************************* In collaboration, Thorne and Cross are currently writing several novels, including the next volume in the continuing gothic series, The Ravencrest Saga. Their first novel, The Cliffhouse Haunting, was an immediate bestseller. Together, they hosted the horror-themed radio show Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE! which featured such guests as Anne Rice of The Vampire Chronicles, Charlaine Harris of the Southern Vampire Mysteries and basis of the HBO series True Blood, Jeff Lindsay, author of the Dexter novels, Jay Bonansinga of The Walking Dead series, Laurell K. Hamilton of the Anita Blake novels, Peter Atkins, screenwriter of Hellraiser 2, 3, and 4, worldwide bestseller V.C. Andrews, Kim Harrison of the Hollows series, and New York Times best sellers Preston & Child, Christopher Rice, and Christopher Moore. ********************************************************************************************** Currently, Thorne & Cross are hosts of Thorne & Cross: Carnival Macabre, where listeners can discover all manner of demented delights, unearth terrifying treasures, and explore the dark side of the arts.

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