Bram Stoker Award: Best Novel nominee (2001).
Once upon a time there was a man who loved children. He loved them so much he tried to save them from their imperfect parents. Unfortunately, Hector Woollie didn't work for Child Protective Services... and the children he rescued, he murdered.
Once upon a time, Leslie had a happy marriage, a happy son, and a happy life. Now divorced, she is trapped in ongoing battles with her ex-husband, Roger, especially over their newly-adolescent son, Ian.
When Ian and his young stepsister disappear, Roger insists the boy kidnapped the girl, while Leslie thinks Ian might have run away. She prays that her son is near and will come home soon.
Ian is near-right next door, just on the other side of a shared wall. Ian can hear his parents fighting and his mother's desperate weeping, but he can't call for help. Hector Woollie has him and his stepsister, and if either child makes a peep, the madman will slit both their throats.
John Ramsey Campbell (born 1946) is a British horror writer.
Since Ramsey Campbell first came to prominence in the mid-1960s, critics have cited Campbell as one of the leading writers in his field: T. E. D. Klein has written that "Campbell reigns supreme in the field today", while S. T. Joshi stated, "future generations will regard him as the leading horror writer of our generation, every bit the equal of Lovecraft or Blackwood."