Wednesday, May 17, 2023

The Mall

Back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the concept of a shopping mall was still a relatively new thing. Who knew that an outdoor plaza of shops could magically transform into an inside oasis for buyers and sellers to mingle regardless of the weather. In America, the neighborhood shopping mall was the place to be for food, friends, arcade machines, and photos. But, it could also host a number of terrors for parents hoping to shield their children from kidnappers, drugs, and perverts. In the 1983 Pocket Books novel The Mall, authored by an unknown dude named Steve Kahn, the idea of shoppers being ransomed for money becomes a plot destined for greatness. Think of Die Hard in a mall. What could possibly go wrong?

At over 300 pages, The Mall is unfortunately a bloated pile of trash. The author introduces dozens of characters, which required a pen and paper to keep track of who's who in the sea of Saturday shoppers. The plot develops into a semi-heist novel when a guy named Prince rounds up five other people to take over the busy Green Meadows shopping mall in Connecticut. They seal up the doors with a special “as seen on television” super-duper glue, then take control of the mall's security room and chief officer. Once this is done, they simply make a demand to the local police chief that they will release the shoppers once they receive millions of dollars in ransom money. 

At some point, by like page 250, I was hoping an Able Team or Eagle Force would show up to liberate the mall in a hail of bullets and blood. But, none of that happens. Instead, the author spends pages and pages fixated on a birthday party for the mall's owner that is simultaneously taking place on an upper level while the mall is being commandeered by criminals. When a message is announced on the PA system that hijackers have overtaken the mall and are asking for millions in ransom money, 40,000 shoppers do absolutely nothing. In fact, it is mostly business as usual as long as they don't attempt to leave. It was kinda, “I'll have a slice of pizza and a TRS-80 game cartridge while I wait for the supposed carnage to end.” It was utterly ridiculous. 

My poor shopping led to a miserable reading experience. It's The Mall of Shame and our newest inductee into the Hall of Shame.

Buy a copy of this book HERE. 


  1. I read this book when it was published and thought the concept cosmically stupid at the time. Still do. You might be able to seal the main entrances but the anchor stores, even in the 80s, had outside entrances and mall stores also have outside doors for receiving shipments. And wasn't there a subplot about a young woman prostituting herself in a van in the parking lot to make enough money to leave town? Anyways, as you said, terrible plot and terrible writing.

  2. Yay! I have been trying to track this book down for the last couple of years. It's always haunted me, because I used to see it in a used bookstore (when such things still existed around here) for years, and I always flirted with buying it but never did, figuring it was probably not really horror, and was gonna suck. Then one very depressing day I went to that book store and found it emptied out and shut down... and it always bugged me that not only did I not get that "mall" book and thus would never know about it, I couldn't remember for sure what the title was, or who wrote it, so I could at least research it. Searching for likely suspects online never turned it up, so it always pestered me a bit, like an unscratched itch. Thanks to you, I now know exactly what it was... and that my instincts were good for not buying it! So I won't go seeking it out or anything, but I'm glad to finally confirm what the title was and to know a little more about it. Thank you!