What do you do when writing an international bestseller and mega-hit screenplay have helped kill your comedy writing career? If you're William Peter Blatty, you go back and mine the territory that so fascinated you in the first place. The Los Angeles Times’ Nick Owchar talks with William Peter Blatty about his new novel Dimiter (Forge):
Set in the 1970s, “Dimiter” introduces us, in a riveting opening scene, to an enigmatic inmate in an Albanian prison during the gray days of Enver Hoxha's regime. The man coolly withstands unbearable torture and then escapes, vanishing like a phantom . . . only to later turn up in the Holy Land. He becomes a shadowy presence in the lives of several people, including an Arab Christian policeman and a Jewish doctor, both of whom puzzle over several mysterious deaths somehow linked to this figure, who is named Paul Dimiter.Publishers Weekly liked Dimiter quite a lot, saying that “Blatty fans looking for straight-up horror in the vein of The Exorcist will be disappointed, but those with broader tastes will find this a beautifully written, haunting tale of vengeance, spiritual searching, loss, and love.”
If you look more closely, the story also makes a sly, theological nod to the essential mystery of the Gospels that Christians everywhere will celebrate on Sunday: the Resurrection. Blatty has taken a message of religious faith and enfolded it within a fast-paced plot for a basic reason.
“I had to make a page-turner,” he says, “or else who would want to read it?”