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This short novel that is told with almost fable-like simplicity: Matt Harper is a first-time counselor at a boy's summer camp when he witnesses a casual brutality that leads to murder. The bullying, gluttonous headman Ed Nolan (who has "reduced Camp Pleasant to a microcosm of the Third Reich") is portrayed as one stereotype that the reader is not sorry to see killed off. Instead, all of our sympathy is reserved for the possible suspects: Merv Loomis, the homosexual counselor Nolan humiliates into quitting; the troubled ten-year-old Tony Rocca; Nolan's meek wife, Ellen; and several others. The setting and tone have the distinct feel of the early 1950s, but a casual reference to actress Catherine Deneuve places the action in the mid-60s or later.
In other hands, perhaps this minimalist plot would be inadequate, but Matheson, author of Somewhere in Time and Hell House as well as classic Twilight Zone teleplays, has such a command of his craft that reading this book is pure pleasure. The simple writing style brings to mind Hemingway. "It was a Wednesday night and there were movies down in the lodge so I sent my boys there and stayed in the cabin, packing my trunk." Occasionally, Matheson waxes poetic: "I lay there staring at the wall, feeling my heart thud slowly in my chest like the fist of a dying man on the wall of his prison." Readers will find in Matheson's book a deeply engaging story with a clear writing style that is a pleasure to read.
moral support while a scolding Miss Leiber lanced, drained, sulfa-powdered and bandaged. When we finally returned to the cabin, Tony had a slipper on his bad boot and he made a pathetic picture limping back to the cabin with his Louisville Slugger for a cane. A few nights later, I woke up and heard him sobbing. With a head- shaking sigh, I slipped out of bed and went over to him. “What now, little man?” I said. No answer. I pulled up his blanket again and pointed the flashlight beam at the
walking down here like this.” “Where is it then?” asked Ed Nolan. “Did it fly away?” “Maybe it was taken away,” Merv said tensely. “Oh, don’t give me that,” said Ed. “Listen, I’m telling you that—” “I’m not interested in what you got to tell me, Loomis,” Ed interrupted. He pointed the flash beam toward shore, then back. “Come on. Get off this dock. You got fifteen minutes to clear outta my camp.” “Fifteen—!” “You heard me!” “Now, wait a moment,” Merv insisted. “You can’t—” Ed grabbed
Ed started forward. “I’d take that back,” he said, “queer.” “Why should I?” Merv asked, his scorn weakened. “I don’t work for you any more, remember?” “Ya gonna apologize?” The sound in Ed Nolan’s voice was terrifying. “No, I’m not!” Merv backed off more. It happened too quickly for Sid to prevent it. One second Merv was edging away from Ed, the next second Ed had him by the right arm and was driving a bunched fist into his face. A stunned gasp of pain burst from Merv as he went flailing
6. 7. Chapter Three 1. 2. 3. 4. Chapter Four 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Chapter Five 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Chapter Six 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 1. The train wheezed into Emmetsville at nine-sixteen that Saturday night. “You win.” Bob handed me a dime. “I thought we’d have to get out and push.” Bob and Mack and I dragged our suitcases off the overhead racks and lugged them down the aisle. “Emmetsville! End of the line!” the conductor’s voice came drifting down from the next car. “You’re
simple.” He sighed heavily. “Well, it’s not simple; I’d bet money on that. How do we know what happened while Tony’s father was away? Christ, for all we know, his mother was sleeping with everybody. She worked at night—there’s a key phrase for you. And who’s this Uncle Charlie? I remember when I was a kid, my dad used to have me call all his friends Uncle—Uncle Bill and Uncle Ned and Uncle Mike.” He made a sound that was amused yet not amused. “None of them were related to me. And I’d lay money