The author of the Eden family-dynasty series, who made an apocalyptic uproar in The Portent, now cooks up a more homey sort...



The author of the Eden family-dynasty series, who made an apocalyptic uproar in The Portent, now cooks up a more homey sort of ghost/terror tale--and if one can weather the extraordinary obtuseness of the hero, there's a goose-bump or two in the offing. The prologue describes a 1940s incident full of gore, with a touch of spookery: at a WW II Navy base, gorgeous Rita Manning (absolutely copacetic in red jersey) watches husband Alee cosying up to blonde widow Brett Simpson; a violent tiff ensues; and Rita disappears into the night followed by kind barman Amos Foster. . . who'll wind up flayed to death by Something Horrid with wings, scalpel beak, and a hint of red jersey. Now, however, it's 1963, and the focus is on Brett's son Mark, a student at a college near the old base (now all weeds and abandoned buildings, ""a modern ghost town of waste and death and silence and sun""). Alee and Rita are now dead; Mark has only a vague idea of the stormy relationships among the 1940s friends. But then, while jogging one day, he glimpses a flash of red, and nearly drowns as he reaches for an underwater vision in the pond. . . and falls 'neath the spell of a strange girl standing nearby: Cass, dressed in Forties jeans, man's white shirt, and penny loafers. She sirens Mark over to the Navy Base, where the Officers' Club has somehow been magically restored to its 1940s glitter: juke boxes grind out oldies; people are dancing in Navy whites. What's going on? A costume party, Cass explains. And Mark believes her, never catching on through the ensuing Twilight Zone-ry that he's being shunted back to the 1940s to have his nose rubbed in something particularly nasty. He attends the funeral of his long-dead father. (Who was that mourning woman with a baby?) He receives scrambled messages from mother Brett--alive but doomed in California. He gets incomprehensible 1940s hints from nice Amos Foster and a strangely indestructible Greek restaurateur. But finally, after hearing the presence of Cass' highly potent Mummy (yes, it's Rita of the red jersey) and witnessing a replay of that 1940s murder, Mark catches on--and races to upset an elaborate program of astral Revenge, freeing both himself and new love Cass from the past. . . though Mark's best pal will, alas, get the Amos treatment. Despite Mark's dodo-ness and some over-familiar gimmicks: a bouncy thriller with plenty of gasps, yowls, and yeechs for the supernaturally inclined.

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 1982


Page Count: -

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1982