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Midnight Rain

by James Newman

(Earthling Publications, $40, signed & numbered hardcover.)

Review by Gary Couzens

cover scanIt's 1977, something that James Newman doesn't let the reader forget, as the period detail is a little too insistent. In the small town of Midnight, North Carolina, Kyle Mackey is twelve years old. His father died in Nam, and his mother is slowly killing herself with the bottle. Brother Dan is about to go to college. The night before Dan leaves, Kyle goes to his "secret place" in the woods -- and witnesses the murder of a young woman called Cassandra Belle Rourke. And the murderers are two men Kyle knows: the local sheriff Burt Baker and his son Henry ...

Midnight Rain is a novel that stands on the borderline between crime and horror, an example of the latter genre being less to do with content than with tone. Nothing supernatural happens, nor is the novel excessively grisly, but it belongs in part to horror as it's a story of the destruction of innocence. As Kyle tries to free himself from his predicament, complications are thrown in his path: his mother begins to date Burt Baker, and revelations are forthcoming about Henry and Cassandra. And Kyle begins to suspect that his own brother may have some involvement.

With the exception of a brief prologue and an epilogue, Midnight Rain takes place over a short period of time (5 to 20 August), a conciseness that's to the novel's benefit. Newman writes terse, clean prose that propels the story forward. It's certainly a page-turner.

Earthling's edition of Midnight Rain has a foreword by Ed Gorman and black and white interior illustrations by Alex McVey. It's available in an edition of 250 numbered hardcovers signed by Newman. A ten-copy lettered, slipcased and leatherbound hardcover edition signed by Newman, Gorman and McVey is sold out.


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