I had zero expectations going into this one being new to John Farris as I was. I am a sucker for a vintage hardcover in great shape for a couple bucks. What I found inside was a mostly good tale told on the bayou where the gators are placid and the love is quick –smidgen too quick for this guy.
Immediately, the chosen themes of horror revealed themselves and I did my best to hold back a groan. There was a trend that really took off sometime in the mid-80s and carried on into the early 90s. Probably Reagan’s fault. Authors were scared, or possibly saw that the public was scared, of home invaders. In this tale, unlike so many reheated Dean Koontz barf fests –note, Koontz has written a handful of good-to-great books– this was not a chance encounter. A mentally unstable husband, a super hacker, is estranged and looking to remedy the fact. Here is the second theme I’ve seen often from those days; fear of the computer takeover.
The hero has a few fun and notably original traits that make him stand out, point for Farris. He’s been in the air force for all his adult life and was only just forced into retirement by night blindness. Total night blindness, even with the lights on. He’s come to his family home on the swamp to discover a mafia dude is one of the renters and he’s running drugs –PING! Third theme, definitely Reagan there, every scary drugs. The mafia dude is also there to protect the Don’s daughter in-law and her son from psycho hacker husband with supernatural strength, this despite sitting comatose in a hospital. Atrophy? Pfft, atrophy smatrophy, this mean dude is not having it and seeks out his wife via an internet hook-up that can pinpoint with perfection.
From there, the usual thriller fun comes out. It comes down to a bit of corny fun with the blind man fending his abruptly acquired new family on the instruction of the seeing boy.
Nightfall is better than most invading-your-space-murderer stories that I’ve read and I’ve read plenty of them. Strangely, my favorite bit was the sleepy gators, they always get such a nasty rap.