Last Train from Perdition

October 19, 2016 at 6:00 pm (Reads) (, , )

trainLast Train from Perdition by Robert McCammon

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While I was reading Last Train from Perdition, I was also reading Those Who Went Remain There Still by Cherie Priest. I’m usually reading more than one book at a time, and I usually have no problems juggling different stories, but this time the books were so close in setting and development that I crossed the story wires as I neared the end.

In this novella, we return to Trevor Lawson and Ann Kingsley, vampire and sharpshooter respectively, as they continue their search for LaRouge, the vampire who turned Trevor and turned Ann’s sister and father. Their search takes them to Perdition, where they search for a client’s missing son, but it’s as they take the train out of town that they encounter a threat larger than they expected.

The story hums along, as one would expect from a McCammon novel, but it does falter toward the end. McCammon built his plot and tension very well, enough so that as the final showdown took place, I found myself looking at how many pages were left in the book and thinking How are they going to get out of this? The answer, unfortunately, is that someone else does it for them.

This was the point in the story where I confused Priest’s story for this one, because the group that comes in to save them at the end of the story is a group wielding axes that hadn’t been mentioned before that point, and Priest’s novella opened with a group of lumberjacks clearing a trail through the woods while being pursued by some flying creature. McCammon’s group was such a surprise at that point that I found myself trying to place them, and Priest’s lumberjacks were the only thing I could find. It made a certain kind of sense for a few pages, but then McCammon’s story made it clear I had confused the two.

I don’t fault the story for my confusing the two novellas, but I do fault it for bringing in a deus ex machina and spoiling the conclusion. Granted, things were looking grim for Trevor, Ann, and their small group, but it would have been more satisfying for them to find their own way out of their troubles than to bring in a brand-new group to do it for them. Years ago, I read something that suggested the protagonist of any story is the one who defeats the protagonist, and that the story should be about the protagonist; Last Train from Perdition bucks that trend, and the story suffers for it. On the positive side, McCammon creates an intriguing twist by bringing in this new group, one that will complicate things for Trevor as his stories continue. It seems clear from the way this story ends, and the way McCammon has set up the premise of these two books, that there will be more books about these characters.

My biggest complaint about I Travel by Night was that it felt rushed. Last Train from Perdition avoids this pitfall, but finds others. The story felt more realized and concise this time around, and I would have given it four stars if it hadn’t ended the way it did. Still, McCammon is a writer to trust, so if he releases more books in this series, I expect I’ll read them.

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