BEDBUGS by Ben H. Winters [Review]


When is reality real, when are you insane? It’s the central question of many a psychological thriller, paranormal thriller and occasional romance. It’s also one of those questions I love in a book. Is the character nuts? Is what they are experiencing a figment of their imagination or is it tangible? This is a major part of Ben H. Winters’ latest novel BEDBUGS.

Susan and Alex Wendt have lucked into a wonderful apartment. Though Alex was originally dubious about the Craigslist ad that attracted Susan’s attention, it turned out to be a fabulous deal—at least on the surface. The apartment has a few small issues. Teeny tiny creepy crawly issues that are consuming Susan alive. Bedbugs. Horrible, awful, gruesome, make your flesh crawl bedbugs. Susan has a problem though—only she can see them. She lives in a deepening world of horror, and to the outside world it looks a lot like insanity. As she tracks down what they are, it turns out her problem might be bigger—and more terrifying – than she ever dreamed.

I’m a little torn about this Bedbugs. The first part is fabulous, can’t put it down, page turning thriller. I was caught up in the story and flipping through at a mad pace wanting to know what was coming, where the story was going. Somewhere towards the end the tension unraveled a little. I can’t put my finger on just what it was, the book just lost a little forward momentum. The final answer was satisfying, but it wasn’t—if you know what I mean. I guess after everything in the early bits I wanted a little more bang at the end.

Winters’ style is clean, I love the way he puts words together. He sets a scene, puts the reader in the center and lets the action flow, never seeming to get bogged down in endless description or long-winded explanations. The questions and answers appear as part of the meat of the story, and move along without stopping the reader. And that is becoming rare. So often in thrillers, the author will stop and ramble on for pages about whatever the question is, on and on, until I’ve completely forgotten what I was reading. Then it’s back to the story. Annoying. Winters doesn’t do that, it’s wonderful to read a book that has a story that moves along and goes somewhere. I do have an odd feeling I missed a few in jokes, like standing in a circle at a cocktail party and everyone giggles at something you don’t find funny, but I will forgive him that.

All in all, Bedbugs is a solid read, a good thriller, and I guarantee you will have the creepy “I need to bleach my pillowcases in hot water” crawlies for days after. It might not be at the tip top of my reading list, but it is far from the bottom and I definitely think it’s worth taking the time to settle in and let the bugs scurry over you for an evening or two. You won’t be disappointed.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars | Publisher: Quirk Books | Pages: 256 | Source: Publisher | Buy on Amazon

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