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The Midnight Hour - D. Bacon Horror Book Review
Horror books Review
Stick around long enough, if you’re a reader, and you’ll get books that will drift from one pile of “too-be-read” books to another, then they’ll get dumped into a box or bag and packed away only to be found years later. “The Midnight Hour” is such a book. It was published during the great horror boom of the eighties when some of today’s writers like Richard Laymon, Ray Garton, Jack Ketchum, William Lee, Nancy Holder, Michael Paine, R. Patrick Gates, Melanie Tem and others got started. There were also writers like William Schoell, John Tigges, B. W. Battin, Stephen George, Lisa W. Cantrell, John Coyne, and others who were once popular, but whose career as horror writers didn’t survive the nineties bust. Of course there were any numbers of one-shot writers who would publish one horror novel, and would never publish anything else, of any kind. Donald Bacon was one such author, but even though Bacon never published another novel, Pinnacle showed why horror was one of the top selling genres. This is one attractive book, it has two covers, one is dye-cut, faux-foil mask that is described in the book, while underneath it is a garish, but great gaudy, and uncredited pulp cover with a cute curly blonde standing terrified in front of a cabinet containing some very unhappy and bloody severed heads. Ahh yes, thems were the days when real art graced paperbacks, not some crappy photoshopped stock photo.
Anywho, twenty-three year old Caroline Enders is moving out of her apartment that she currently shares with three others. She loves her female friends, one of which is Beth, the cute blonde on the cover, but she isn’t much taken with the much older, and perpetually boorish, rude, and drunken Harry Hawkins. Going through the papers she finds that an apartment has opened up after its long-time resident, the reclusive Mondrian De Kuyperdahl has died (he has hung himself). Arriving at the apartment, and accompanied by the building’s sleazy and creepy janitor, she finds that De Kuyperdahl has left behind a meticulously painted portrait of the redheaded Audrey, his dead beautiful wife who will figure strongly in this novel. Along with the portrait, and painted on ancient stone, is a grotesque scenario, “The Relic”, right out of the Hieronymus Bosch school of torture [**], and buried in the scenario is De Kuyperdahl, and at least one recent unsolved murder victim.
Unknown to anybody is the fact that De Kuyperdahl’s old acquaintance Evone Dragosi has sold his soul to “The Messenger” who is the evil behind the torturescape, and has spent the decades stalking and mentally torturing De Kuyperdahl, and now that De Kuyperdahl is gone, has set his attention on Caroline. The problem for Caroline is that Evone Dragosi is quite mad, a total religious zealot that will do anything and all things for his evil master.
Bacon slowly builds the novel’s suspense as Caroline slowly begins to realize that she is being stalked and that she is in some real danger, especially as she also begins to realize that the Messenger is also finding a way to slowly drive her insane. And so begins the cat-and-mouse game between Caroline and Evone Dragosi; Harry Hawkins has cleaned up his act and having found De Kuyperdahl’s diary finds out the history behind the Messenger, De Kuyperdah, Evone Dragosi and the Relic. Bacon does a wonderful job of writing this weird horror menace novel that falls squarely into the “Anti-Christ” sub-genre of horror that was popular in the eighties.
While there is violence and gore, there is also some real suspense. Bacon, whoever he was, was a gifted author of escalating supernatural suspense and he should have gone on to have had a longer career in horror, but it was not to be, but he did manage to leave behind “The Midnight Hour” and for this, we should be thankful, and it should be sought out and read, especially by fans of eighties horror, or those that are tired of humorous, lite, or chick-lit horror, or those who are tired of plotless, and sadistic sex (so-called erotic) horror that populate the current bookstands.