7 STEPS TO MIDNIGHT by Richard Matheson

7 STEPS TO MIDNIGHT

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 A legend of horror returns to the field after 15 years--and stumbles. Matheson's first occult novel since What Dreams May Come (1978) finds the author of I Am Legend and The Incredible Shrinking Man mining the same vein of altered reality that inspired his classic Twilight Zone and Star Trek scripts--but this new story, about a mathematician who gets enmeshed in a surreal spy scenario, offers mostly fool's gold. Government math-man Chris Barton leaves his office to find his blue Mustang missing--though the parking attendant swears that no such car has left the lot. Driving home in a borrowed car, Chris picks up a hitchhiker who ventures a wager: ``the security of your existence against your assumption that you know what's real and what's unreal in your life.'' Chris accepts--and finds in his house a stranger who claims to be Chris Barton and who calls in a threatening cop when Chris objects. Seriously confused, Chris hides in a motel and is accosted by the two men from his house--and, in self-defense, kills one. Desperate, the fugitive calls an old friend who sends him a ticket to London. But there awaits even greater mystery, involving attempts on Chris's life; spys galore; a woman who may be the ghost of a Roman aristocrat; a mystical, street-smart Indian; a mysterious microdot; and much talk of ``reality slippage''--with all this nearly arbitrary mayhem explained away in an absurdly far-fetched premise relating to Chris's top-secret math work. The model for this kind of fantastic suspense is G.K. Chesterton's The Man Who Was Thursday--but where Chesterton rent reality toward an inexorable climax, Matheson piles on the weirdness willy-nilly, albeit quickly and slickly. (Believe-it-or- not fans should note that, in what may be a dad-and-son first, the author's offspring, Richard Christian Matheson, is also publishing a September thriller, Created By, p. 808.)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-312-85409-9
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Forge
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1993




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