|Title: The Hour of the Oxrun Dead
Author: C. L. Grant
Publication: Doubleday, 1977
And there was no wind.”
Natalie Windsor has been widowed for a year and half. Still tormented by the sounds of her husband’s last minutes alive as a police officer in the small New England town of Oxrun Station, she seeks to distance herself from his prying family while establishing a new life for herself. It is not an easy task, she finds, as a man is murdered the same way as her husband. Now, Natalie feels as if something is not right in Oxrun, but what that something is she is not quite sure.
As she works in the library, she notices that books has turned up missing and others are replaced with more mundane and less thought provoking pieces. When she ends up threatened and drugged at a party of Ambrose Toal, Natalie gets the feeling she is the focus of something sinister. When she is chased by a large shadowy cat, she knows it and starts to fit the pieces together with reporter Marc Clayton. She never guesses where it leads her, only that she has to play the game in order to survive.
I had high expectations for this book. The plot sounded fantastic when I read the inside jacket, full of suspense and horror with a surprise twist potentially. Though there was a lot of suspense built throughout the story, I was rather disappointed overall. The trouble with it is the suspense gets built but does not go anywhere. There is no climactic moment, no horrifying event to let off the steam. Instead, I was left with boring interludes with Natalie’s inner monologues and conflicts. Though her thoughts were entertaining and helped the plot along, it was not enough to satisfy the level of suspense throughout. I admit that I kept reading, finishing the book in almost one day, but not for the fact of being absorbed, simply to find out if there was anything exciting that was going to happen. Hopes ran high as I neared the ending, but it was another let down. I finished the book feeling extremely unsatisfied by what I had read. C.L. Grant had many chances for the suspense to lead to something, but didn’t seem to push the events he constructed as far as he could to give the reader a good scare.
Overall, the plot was good, the writing and transitions from scenes flawless and Natalie Windsor makes for a compelling main character. If this novel was intended as more of a drama than a horror, I would say bravo and job well done since her inner musings and personal thoughts seem to lend more towards that genre. Since this was the first novel in a series set in Oxrun Station, it could have been that this novel was merely an introduction for the rest to follow, thus making the story not as impactful as it may have been. It may also have been that it was first published in 1977, making the horror of that time quite different than the horror stories I grew up with. Though, I still can’t figure out why it is called The Hour of the Oxrun Dead.