When I bought Dweller by Jeff Strand, I also got his first paperback published by Leisure Books, Pressure. I'm glad I did because after reading the amazing Dweller, I wanted to read another Strand novel asap.
Pressure didn't disappoint and was just as engrossing and entertaining as Dweller. It was nominated for Best Novel in the 2006 Bram Stoker Awards, but lost to Lisey's Story by Stephen King.
Kids are often confronted with peer pressure to try "immoral" things like drugs, alcohol or sex. But what if your friend was interested in something a bit more dangerous and depraved? ...Like torturing and murdering a person together?
That's what Alex's demented friend, Darren,wants them to do together. When they first meet at boarding school as kids, Darren is a quiet roommate who doesn't say much to the other boys. But he reveals his true nature to Alex and they part on not-so-great terms. They meet again in college and Darren acts as if they're old pals. Eventually Alex forgives him for the horrors he put him through in boarding school - they were just kids after all. Unfortunately, Darren hasn't changed a bit and wants Alex to take part in his gory hobby.
Pressure is known as Strand's first serious novel, but he still manages to inject some humor into the story. Not as much as with Dweller, as the subject matter in this novel is pretty dark, but I still got a few chuckles from it.
The characters Alex and Darren are well-developed. Alex is the relatable, average guy that you end up caring immensely about and easily empathize with. Darren is a charismatic, intelligent psychopath comparable to a villain like Norman Bates or Hannibal Lecter.
The story is suspenseful and tense, keeping the reader on edge with its fast pace and brutal gore scenes.
Pressure is a disturbing read that will make you think twice about who you trust and I highly recommend it. But I still liked Dweller a little more, so I'm giving Pressure a 4 rating. Check out Dweller too, neither of them will disappoint.
Check out this hilarious video where Jeff Strand explains how Pressure can help serial killers.