With the death this week of Jack Vance at age 96, the world has lost one of its greatest
For my part, I'd like to recommend his 1973 suspense novel Bad Ronald, published under his full name, John Holbrook Vance. I read this book when it first came out and have never forgotten it. I don't think you will either. In my mind, the novel channels Vance's inner Robert Bloch. The story concentrates on a chilling and unbelievable premise that Vance turns into completely believable novel. Ronald, you see, lives his secret life in a secret room under the stairs in a house where the family that lives there has no idea they have him as a tenant. And Ronald, being Ronald, is not like the other children. In fact, Ronald can be very dangerous.
In 1974 Bad Ronald was turned into an ABC Movie of the Week, starring Scott Jacoby in the title role, with Pippa Scott, Dabney Coleman, and Kim Hunter. The movie was heavily promoted and some consider a classic of its type. Most people, including myself, rate it a bit above average. The film just could not transmit the atmosphere of evil that Vance had imbued in the novel.
Here's a clip from the film:
Catherine Heigel starred in the French remake Mechant Garcon (1992), with Joachim Lombard as Ronald. I don't know how successful this film was, but I fear it fell short of the mark. A proposed 2010 remake for Dimension Films evidently fell into development hell.
Give this book -- or any book by Vance -- a try. You won't be sorry