I introduced myself to Charles Grant’s writing a little over a year ago. I started reading his novels in chronological order and The Sound of Midnight is his 2nd in a series that takes place in his twisted little town of Oxrun Station. For those of you that haven’t discovered Grant yet, think of Stephen King’s Derry where strange things always seem to happen. The Sound of Midnight was published in 1978 and his writing was progressively getting better with each novel. His atmospheric dread or “quiet horror”, if you will, was always there. However, the problem that I have had with his writing, up until now, has been the helpless, dim-witted female characters and the annoying, chauvenistic male characters. Charles Grant’s The Curse was a perfect example. His “Hour of the Oxrun Dead” still had it, but was better. With The Sound of Midnight, the female character is better yet, but the male character still holds on to some of those annoying characteristics.
With that out of the way, The Sound of Midnight is an eerie tale of mystery. Dale’s parents were killed and left her a mom & pop toy store in Oxrun Station. Her boyfriend is a teacher at the local HS. One day, Dale is sitting by a pond in the park and is thunked in the head with a rock. She comes to and finds that one of the boys that frequents her toy store is face down in the pond with a few of his classmates looking on. This begins a string of strange deaths that take place and that involve fire and water. Dale and her boyfriend Vic find themselves in the middle of it and the local police chief isn’t liking it. With no one to turn to and not knowing who they can trust, its up to the two to find out what is going on and what it has to do with the town’s children before Dale and Vic end up being next.
As I’ve said, The Sound of Midnight is full of atmosphere that builds up in almost a hazy, dreamlike way. The characters still hold on to a little of those annoying characteristics that seem to be prevelent in many of the novels from the 1970s – helpless females that want to run away from every problem, chavenistic males that try to be way too funny and cute in everything they say, etc. But, to be fair, not nearly as much as Grant’s earlier works. This helps the reader to be able to focus on the story and it is Grant’s best one up to this point. I look forward to seeing his further progression as I go through his catalog of Oxrun tales.
3.5 out of 5 stars