Monday, May 13, 2013

I Travel by Night - Robert McCammon



Back in the Eighties, Robert McCammon was one of my favorite horror authors. I didn't read every one of his novels, but I read quite a few of them. My favorite is still THE WOLF'S HOUR, a hugely entertaining werewolf/World War II espionage yarn. He also published a fine collection of short fiction called BLUE WORLD, which contains the novella "Night Calls the Green Falcon", one of my favorite stories in any genre.

But then McCammon retired for a number of years, despite being fairly young, and when he started writing again about half a dozen years ago, he made his comeback with a pair of huge historical mysteries set in colonial America. An odd choice, to be sure, but I can certainly respect an author writing what he wants to write, if he has the luxury of doing so. I haven't read those big mysteries yet – their sheer size is pretty daunting to me – but I will one of these days.

McCammon has started writing horror again, though, and his latest, I TRAVEL BY NIGHT, is right up my alley. It's a short novel, which I like, and it has a great concept: what if Paladin was a vampire?

Well, not Paladin, exactly, but the year is 1886 and Trevor Lawson is a "gentleman adventurer" who lives in a fancy hotel in New Orleans and carries business cards that read ALL MATTERS HANDLED – I TRAVEL BY NIGHT. Close enough for me. In this opening yarn, Lawson is hired by a wealthy politician to recover the man's kidnapped teenage daughter. In what comes as no surprise, the job ties in with Lawson's personal quest to find the beautiful female vampire who turned him during the Civil War, in the aftermath of the battle of Shiloh. (I wrote a whole novel about Shiloh and never realized there were vampires hanging around the battlefield. But it makes sense.)

The trail leads Lawson to an abandoned, rotting town in the Louisiana swamp. Along the way there are some good action scenes leading up to a harrowing showdown. Throw in a beautiful young woman who's a deadly sharpshooter, and this is exactly my kind of stuff. McCammon writes in a somewhat more lush style than what I usually read (a polite way of saying he's a little long-winded at times), but he does it so well that it's not a distraction.

I TRAVEL BY NIGHT, which is available as both a hardback and an e-book, is great fun from start to finish. Clearly it's intended to be the first in a series, and that's welcome news as far as I'm concerned. I'll read as many of them as McCammon wants to write and am already looking forward to the next one.


11 comments:

Larry D. Sweazy said...

I was a fan of McCammon's, too. Boy's Life was my favorite. I hadn't seen this title, James, looks good. Thanks for posting the find. I'll check it out.

Anonymous said...

I was jsut going to mention BOY'S LIFE too, Larry. Great stuff.


Jeff M.

Bill Crider said...

I was going to review this soon, but maybe I'll just link to your review. I even feel the same way you do about "Night Calls the Green Falcon" and The Wolf's Hour. My favorite is still Boy's Life, though.

James Reasoner said...

BOY'S LIFE seems to be most people's favorite McCammon novel. It certainly does resonate with a lot of readers, including me. I don't like it quite as well as some of the other novels, but it's definitely worth reading. I recall THE NIGHT BOAT (his first novel written, second published, I believe) as being one of the scariest books I've ever read.

Derrick Ferguson said...

The "lush style" of McCammon's is one of the many reasons I love the man's writing. THE WOLF'S HOUR is spectacular pulp action adventure and STINGER is totally a must read. SWAN SONG is often taken for a knock-off of Stephen King's "The Stand" which couldn't be further from the truth.

Jack Badelaire said...

Just bought the ebook. I'm curious enough about this story that I'll read it eventually, although I've got a lot of books on deck right now.

Charles Gramlich said...

I want this. Loved McCammon myself back in the day.

Keith West said...

Looks like I'm going to have to add McCammon to my list.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I wish people would stop recommending books. I need to hang around with less literate people.

Anonymous said...

Patti, I know what you mean. I just had to order THE WOLF'S HOUR and the short stories.

*sigh*


Jeff M.

Jack Badelaire said...

I found myself reading this last night during a pretty heavy storm. What a great yarn - the author paints an amazingly (maybe even disturbingly) vivid world that draws you in and takes you along for a great ride. I'll have to post a review, if not today, some time this week.