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In the Night Room: A Novel

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In the Night Room: A Novel Cover

ISBN13: 9780345491329
ISBN10: 0345491327
Condition: Standard
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Excerpt

1

About 9:45 on a Wednesday morning early in a rain-drenched September, a novelist named Timothy Underhill gave up, in more distress than he cared to acknowledge, on his ruined breakfast and the New York Times crossword puzzle and returned, far behind schedule, to his third-floor loft at 55 Grand Street. Closing his door behind him did nothing to calm his troubled heart. He clanked his streaming umbrella into an upright metal stand, transported a fresh cup of decaffeinated coffee to his desk, parked himself in a flexi- ble mesh chair bristling with controls, double-clicked on Outlook

Express’s arrow-swathed envelope, and, with the sense of finally putting most of his problem behind him, called to the surface of his screen the day’s first catch of e-mails, ten in all. Two of them were completely inexplicable. Because the messages seemed to come from strangers (with names unattached to specific domains, he would notice later), bore empty subject lines, and consisted of no more than a couple of disconnected words each, he promptly deleted them.

As soon as he had done so, he remembered dumping a couple of similar e-mails two days earlier. For a moment, what he had seen from the sidewalk outside the Fireside Diner flared again before him, wrapped in every bit of its old urgency and dread.

2

In a sudden shaft of brightness that fell some twenty miles northwest of Grand Street, a woman named Willy Bryce Patrick (soon to be Faber) was turning her slightly dinged little Mercedes away from the Pathmark store on the north side of Hendersonia, having succumbed to the compulsion, not that she had much choice, to drive two and two-tenths miles along Union Street’s increasingly vacant blocks instead of proceeding directly home. When she reached a vast parking lot with two sedans trickling through its exit, she checked her rearview mirror and looked around before driving in. Irregular slicks of water gleamed on the black surface of the lot. The men waiting to drive out of the lot took in the blond, shaggy-haired woman moving through their field of vision at the wheel of a sleek, snub-nosed car; one of them thought he was looking at a teenaged boy.

Willy drifted along past the penitentiary-like building that dominated the far end of the parking lot. Her shoulders rode high and tight, and her upper arms seemed taut as cords. Like all serious compulsions, hers seemed both a necessary part of her character and to have been wished upon her by some indifferent deity. Willy pulled in to an empty space and, now at the heart of her problem, regarded what was before her: a long, shabby-looking brick structure, three stories high, with wide metal doors and ranks of filthy windows concealed behind cobwebs of mesh. Around the back, she knew, the dock that led into the loading bays protruded outward, like a pier over the surface of a lake. A row of grimy letters over the topmost row of windows spelled out michigan produce.

Somehow, that had been the start of her difficulties: michigan produce, the words, not the building, which appeared to be a wholesale fruit-and-vegetable warehouse. Two days earlier, driving along inattentively, in fact in one of her “dazes,” her “trances”–Mitchell Faber’s words–Willy had found herself here, on this desolate section of Union Street, and the two words atop the big grimy structure had all but peeled themselves off the warehouse, set themselves on fire, and floated aflame toward her through the slate-colored air.

Willy had the feeling that she had been led here, that her “trance” had been charged with purpose, and that she had been all along meant to come across this building.

She wondered if this kind of thing ever happened to someone else. Almost instantly, Willy dismissed the strange little vision that blazed abruptly in her mind, of a beautiful, dark-haired teenaged boy, skateboard in one hand, standing dumbstruck on a sunlit street before an empty, ordinary-looking building. Her imagination had always been far too willing to leap into service, whether or not at the time imagination was actually useful. That sometimes it had been supremely useful to Willy did not diminish her awareness that her imaginative faculty could also turn on her, savagely. Oh, yes. You never knew which was the case, either, until the dread began to crawl up your arms.

The image of a teenaged boy and an empty house added to the sum of disorder at large in the universe, and she sent it back to

the mysterious realm from which it had emerged. Because: hey, what might be in that empty house?

3

The memory of the messages he had seen on Monday awakened Tim Underhill’s curiosity, and before going on to answer the few of the day’s e-mails that required responses, he clicked on Deleted

Items, of which he seemed now to have accumulated in excess of two thousand, and looked for the ones that matched those he had just received. There they were, together in the order in which he had deleted them: Huffy and presten, with the blank subject lines that indicated a kind of indifference to protocol he wished he did not find mildly annoying. He clicked on the first message.

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londonpugg, October 30, 2008 (view all comments by londonpugg)
An amazing book, full of surprises.I think it was a perfect mixture of fantasy and reality, you get caught up in it and don't wanna put it down!
I found this book in a thrift store and it was the first time I'd read anything by Peter Straub, now I can't wait to read another one of his books!!
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780345491329
Author:
Straub, Peter
Publisher:
Ballantine Books
Subject:
Children
Subject:
Sisters
Subject:
Horror - General
Subject:
Psychological fiction
Subject:
Ghost stories
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Horror
Copyright:
Edition Number:
Reprint ed.
Edition Description:
Mass market paperback
Publication Date:
March 2006
Binding:
MASS MARKET
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
384
Dimensions:
6.86x4.22x1.07 in. .42 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Horror » General
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In the Night Room: A Novel Used Mass Market
0 stars - 0 reviews
$4.50 In Stock
Product details 384 pages Ballantine Books - English 9780345491329 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "In Black House, Straub and Stephen King wrote of 'slippage,' whereby the borders between reality and fantasy blur. This entire brilliant novel is an act of slippage. In this sequel to last year's lost boy lost girl, and further chapter in the ongoing adventures of Straub protagonist Tim Underhill (Koko, etc.), the most intellectually adventurous of dark fantasy authors takes the apparent slippage of the prequel — in which Underhill's experience of a slain nephew's survival at the hands of a serial killer was indicated to be compensatory imagining by Underhill — several steps into the impressively weird. Underhill, an author, here encounters not the mere survival of a dead relation but the existence of a character he's creating in his journals. Dark fantasy cognescenti will remember that King employed a somewhat similar device in The Dark Half, but Straub's approach is distinctly his own, directed at mining the ambiguous relationship between nature and art, fact and fiction, the real and the ideal. The character Underhill has brought into being is Willy Bryce Patrick, a children's book author soon to be married to coldhearted financier Mitchell Faber, at least until Willy discovers that Faber had her first family murdered. Willy, whom Tim meets during a bookstore reading of his latest novel, lost boy lost girl, believes she is real (as does the reader for the book's first third), and learns otherwise only through Tim's painful, patient revelations. The two fall in deeply in love, but their passion seems doomed — not only is Willy's existence tenuous, but the pair are being pursued with murderous intent by Faber and his goons, as the former is in fact one form of the serial killer of lost boy lost girl, Joseph Kalendar; moreover, a terrible angel is insisting that only when Underhill makes an ultimate sacrifice, righting a wrong he did to Kalendar in lost boy lost girl, will matters resolve. Moving briskly while ranging from high humor to the blackest dread, this is an original, astonishingly smart and expertly entertaining meditation on imagination and its powers; one of the very finest works of Straub's long career, it's a sure bet for future award nominations. Agent, David Gernert. (Oct. 26)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "Readers of Straub's previous fiction will eventually tumble to what's going on — but may well wonder whether the muted payoff was worth so much mazelike artifice. Straub can still tease the imagination and chill the blood with the best of them."
"Review" by , "Inventive and moving, though not as dazzling as [lost boy lost girl]."
"Review" by , "[F]ast-paced, deftly plotted....[A] riveting and elegiac journey....The result is not only a powerful and arresting foray into the dark fantastic, but also a novel that manages to provide a deeply personal glimpse into its author's psyche without sacrificing narrative and suspense." Christopher Rice
"Review" by , "[A]n impressive display of [Straub's] ability to combine a twisting, fast-paced plot with intelligent writing. It's a horror/love story, but with ideas....In the Night Room is packed with interesting stuff."
"Review" by , "In the Night Room proves more poignant than frightening — though Straub remains adept at evoking the subtler shades of fear....This is popular fiction of an intriguingly high order..."
"Review" by , "Straub...can be an elegant writer. Here he rewards his fans with anagrams, postmodern narrative trickery and amusing speculations on the relationship between creators and their creatures."
"Review" by , "Throughout In the Night Room, Straub yields to genre cliches more frequently than he transcends them....[T]hese elements are not resolved so much as abandoned before the plot gives way to a string of car chases and hairsbreadth escapes."
"Review" by , "It is beautifully and, maybe even more importantly, believably written....The result will leave you puzzled, entertained, maybe a bit angry — and thinking. And that, I would submit, makes this work worthwhile."
"Review" by , "With In the Night Room, Peter Straub equals and often tops his bravura 2003 performance, lost boy lost girl....Like every great writer, Straub knows the importance of a good story and solid characters, and In the Night Room has an abundance of both."
"Synopsis" by , A children's book author realizes that the most basic facts of her existence have come into question. When she meets a struggling horror author, the frightening parallels between her loss and the author's manuscript suggest they must join forces to confront the evils surrounding them.
"Synopsis" by , In this Bram Stoker Award-winning chiller, a children's book author discovers frightening parallels between her loss and a manuscript by a struggling horror writer, who suggests they must join forces to confront the evils surrounding them.
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