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Cady (Inagehi, 1994, etc.) lampoons his Puget Sound stomping ground in this loopy, somewhat loose-limbed eighth novel: a saga of good and evil battling for the souls of a Washington tourist town trapped in its past. The Victorian age lives on with a vengeance in smug Point Vestal, aided by the presence of countless ghosts of former inhabitants engaging in regular reenactments of their lives and violent ends. But one day in 1974 that pattern is broken and a new one installed, a process that begins when Joel-Andrew, a defrocked Episcopalian priest full of the Lord's power, comes to town with his dancing cat, Obed. Joel-Andrew unwittingly brings with him Point Vestal's one truly bad apple, August Starling--a thoroughly evil businessman originally committed to an asylum in 1893 after being discovered dancing with the corpse of a woman he killed. Starling returns without having aged and quickly adjusts to the new century, scheming to turn the town into a macabre tourist-trap by promoting it as the place for a last sin-filled fling before death, using this idea as a cover for a massive drug-smuggling operation. His sinister machinations are opposed by Joel-Andrew, various benign spirits living and dead, and Kune, a homeless ex-physician from Seattle who fell apart after being unable to save his dying wife. The confrontations finally culminate in a rigged resurrection scene complete with angels, monster spiders, a Chinese dragon, and hell-born darkness dispelled by celestial light. Joel-Andrew emerges victorious but is stoned for his trouble by citizens mourning lost revenue, prompting a new curse on the town that keeps anyone from aging or dying until they all atone. Overused time tricks and Stephen King--like flashy horror effects can't save this one. The lively writing and good insight into the human condition barely mask a ragged, too-familiar tale.

Pub Date: Nov. 14th, 1995
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: St. Martin's