We all know that Daniel Ransom is really Ed Gorman, and with the devoted following that Ed’s work has, I suppose it’s hard to consider any of his books actually forgotten. However, as far as I know this novel hasn’t been reprinted since its original publication seventeen years ago, and it’s not one that you hear all that much about, and it’s one that I’d never gotten around to reading until now, so . . .
The prologue takes place in the 1940s, an era which Gorman recreates well, much as he does the Fifties and Sixties in some of his other books. Richard Candlemas is a lonely high school student with some sort of mysterious special powers that are vaguely sinister. Jump ahead to the Nineties, and Candlemas is the former director of the Perpetual Light Orphanage, an establishment that closed down years earlier after a tragic car wreck claimed the lives of one of its staffers and several students. I use the word “students” because Perpetual Light, ostensibly an orphanage, was actually a school where Richard Candlemas and the people who worked for him tried to find children with psychic powers and help them develop those powers.
When one of Perpetual Light’s instructors is murdered in Chicago, a former student (the sister of one of the girls killed in the car crash) is drawn into the investigation and develops a romance with the police detective handling the case. Someone starts stalking the woman, there are more murders, the scope of the case expands to include some shadowy operatives who claim to be working for the government, and the woman finds evidence that her sister may still be alive after all, as impossible as that seems.
Gorman weaves all these plot strands together with an expert hand, bringing in a number of surprising twists along the way, but as usual in one of his novels, the characters and the little touches of humanity are the real highlights. Everybody in THE LONG MIDNIGHT seems to be carrying his or her own load of melancholy, which is not to say that the book is without hope or even an occasional bit of humor. This is a novel that’s difficult to classify. It’s part thriller, part horror, part science fiction. Mainly, though, it’s a great yarn that races along, inhabited by characters the reader cares about. That makes it well worth seeking out and reading. Highly recommended.