In insidious 2: The Phantoms of Identity Theft, an all-action, suspense thriller written by Patrick H. Price and starring Barbara Hershey, it is easy to see why this movie is so popular. In one scene, we are introduced to a character we will know later on as Syndrome, a dangerous serial killer with a sadistic sense of humor. As the novel’s plot unfolds, we find out that Syndrome is responsible for the death of his stepson while he was on holiday in Costa Rica. However, after he returns home, Syndrome must contend with personal demons that have followed him home from this strange and wonderful land.

insidious 2

Soon after their showdown with the evil spirit that possessed their young son, the Lascaras, Renai (Rose Byrne) and Josh (Patrick Wilson) are about to get their comeuppance in a murder mystery that captivates the readers. But something is just not right with the couple; they have a child together, but the relationship between the two is on the rocks. Meanwhile, Syndrome is also facing his own dark secret from the serial killer he was hired to eliminate – and now he has his sights set on Syndrome’s daughter, Kaylee (Annette Benning). The Lascaras seem to be aware that Syndrome probably killed his stepson, but no matter what they do, their quest to catch their killer seems to be futile. Only when Kaylee tells them about her surprising encounter with Syndrome during a visit to a psychic reader does things begin to move in the right direction.

It would appear that Kaylee is the one person that could potentially uncover the killer’s identity. When Syndrome, now working with a private investigation team, invites her to meet him at his home, she knows that she’s about to find out the truth about serial killers. Although Kaylee initially balks at the idea of mingling with the criminal world, she’s fascinated by the opportunity to find out more about the serial killer that she knows is responsible for her parents’ deaths – and she doesn’t want to miss out on any of the excitement. So when the team decides to take their case, it’s only natural that Kaylee will be included in the process.

What I don’t know is whether the producers of Obvious Child planted that particular bit of information in order to turn it into a horror movie. Or perhaps they saw the film version of The Shining and decided to include a little bit of that in order to satisfy that craving for darkness that some people have. Regardless, the fact remains that the end result is a disturbing, suspenseful tale of greed, power, and the dark side of humanity – and it’s a story that viewers will find difficult to put down.

In the book’s first section, titled “The Concrete Cure,” Kaylee is introduced to the main character of Paul Darden, whose life is about as typical as can be: he’s a failed advertising executive who’s recently lost his job, has a mild restraining order against him, and a rather suspicious and distant wife. Paul and Kaylee hit it off, but as their relationship develops, we begin to discover the darker side of their lives. Eventually, however, as the book’s plot unfolds, we learn that Paul Darden is actually a serial killer. It turns out that he had been invited to a party held by a friend of his in order to invite several other “Zelch” men to the affair. The other men were all there to kill each other; but Darden didn’t want to kill anyone else, so he killed them all instead.

In the second part of the book, “Piercing the Veil,” Kaylee tracks down the address of the last known address for the serial killer – and she’s not happy about it. She tells her friend, tycoon, that she wants to find out who owns the address; and to do so without getting any information on the man, she needs to contact “the league,” a private agency that specializes in identifying serial killers and other violent offenders. She’s willing to risk exposing her friend to the world if it means she can finally have her deadbeat suspect. That means she’s going to have to play one very dangerous game… And as the league’s investigation leads her to the address, she discovers that it’s connected to a man named Wes Janssen.

Wes Janssen is the son of a wealthy family, originally from Norway. He attended the exclusive Private School in Norwood, Massachusetts, where his mother taught him the craft of dentistry. Like many of us, Mr. Janssen may have considered himself too rich to need any schooling, but he wanted his sons to understand the risks inherent in working with teeth – and in this case, killing teeth. As it turns out, Mr. Janssen was obsessed with the idea of creating a perfect world where people could get clean teeth free of deformities. So when his dental student wife found a case of an unidentified body buried in a trash dumpster, they decided to solve the crime by hiring a private detective to track down the killer.

insidious 2 is a clever psychological thriller that draws you in its intricate detail – from the way Mr. Janssen seems to be able to manipulate everyone around him to the detailed information he provides to the league about the identity of the “man behind the smile.” I don’t want to give too much away, but you will definitely feel a connection between this gripping story and your own experience with similar circumstances. Ms. Le Fanu does an excellent job of creating a vivid, atmospheric setting in the small New England town of Riverton. But the true strength of the novel lies in the psychological explanation of Wes’s motivations for targeting those closest to him. It is that understanding which allows Le Fanu to create an unforgettable experience for her readers, and to make insidious 2 a reading pleasure for people from all walks of life. “The Perks of Being Rich” is a superb book.