Book Review: The Hell Candidate by Graham Masterton


First off, ignore the fact that the cover for the 1981 first edition of The Hell Candidate credits Thomas Luke as being the author.  This book was written by Graham Masterton and, with its combination of sex, violence, and transgressive political commentary, it’s easily identifiable as being a Masterton novel.  Why was it published under the name Thomas Luke?  Perhaps, at the time it was published, it was felt that the British Graham Masterton wasn’t a well-enough known name in the United States.  Or maybe it was felt that the book would prove to be so controversial that it had to be published under a pseudonym.  Who knows?  All subsequent editions of the book have credited Graham Masterton as being the author so, obviously, it’s no longer controversial (or even outlandish) to suggest that an American politician might be in league with the devil.

The Hell Candidate is told from the point of view of Jack Russo, a PR man who has been hired to work on the presidential campaign of Hunter Peal.  At the start of his campaign, Peal is a calm and rather even-handed candidate, advocating common sense solutions for America’s problems.  Everyone acknowledges that he’s a good man but no one gives him a chance of actually winning his party’s nomination.  That all changes when Peal’s personality suddenly changes, seemingly overnight.  Suddenly, Peal is loud, profane, and angry, a candidate who promises to destroy America’s enemies and make everyone at home rich.  His managers worry that Peal has gone insane and prepare themselves for a disaster on the campaign trail.

Instead, it turns out that the voters really like this new, profane and insane Hunter Peal.  No matter what Peal says or does, the crowds love him and soon, Hunter Peal is moving into the White House.  Is it because the people truly love this aspiring dictator or is it because Hunter Peal made a deal with the devil?

The Hell Candidate is an effective novel, precisely because we know that most politicians would gladly make a deal with the devil if it meant a chance to set up residence in the White House.  Indeed, what was presumably meant to be shocking when this novel was written is rather common place now.  I mean, seriously — profanity on the campaign trail?  Oh my!  Bragging about your ability to destroy your enemies?  Horror!  Cynically abusing the power of the office of the presidency?  OH MY GOD!  What makes the book memorable, though, is its suggestion that the voters don’t necessarily need to be influenced by the devil to vote for a candidate like Hunter Peal.  Instead, the book suggests that a dictator is secretly what most voters desire.

In the end, the book suggests that the Vatican might be able to help us deal with a Satanically-possessed president but who can save the American people from themselves?

One response to “Book Review: The Hell Candidate by Graham Masterton

  1. Pingback: Lisa’s Week In Review: 10/7/19 — 10/13/19 | Through the Shattered Lens

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