Morrow, Feb 2002, 25.95, 303 pp.
Overcoming the nightmare of his childhood (see SUMMER OF NIGHT), Dale Stewart became a successful literature professor and novelist, though his Jim Bridge: Mountain Man books do not attain the literary standard he desires. However, he threw away a loving family life with a cherished wife and daughters for an affair with a student that ended badly. Filled with self-recrimination, Dale takes a sabbatical from the University of Montana and flees Missoula to stay at the farmhouse of his deceased childhood friend Duane McBride to write his first real novel.
While battling with guilt, Dale writes Internet articles exposing the Big Sky neo-Nazi skinheads, which brings him to the attention of their Illinois brethren. As he settles in the McBride farmhouse, he begins to fall further apart and begins to realize that more than a bunch of extremists want his skin peeled. There are forces turning the screws, but is it inside his head or outside his head's understanding?
The sequel to the scary SUMMER OF NIGHT (to be re-released shortly), A WINTER HAUNTING, is a great tale that keeps the reader wondering if the plot is a psychological thriller or a modern day Turn of the Screw. The story line starts off in an eerie manner as the long dead Duane begins the narration of seeing Montana through Dale's eyes though he never left Illinois. Dan Simmons is at his most frightening best guiding his audience into deciding whether middle aged Dale is breaking down or haunted. This novel and its previous tale are winners and worth reading by fans relishing psychological thrillers or haunting stories because the plots play on multiple levels.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner