cover image Town & Train

Town & Train

James K. Moran. Lethe (www.lethepress-, $20 (340p) ISBN 978-1-59021-508-1

A ghostly train that spirits away residents of a small Canadian town cuts a swath of supernatural menace through this unevenly plotted debut. John Daniel, a teenager in the languishing mill town of Brandon, has an alarming close encounter with the train, which lures people away with the promise of escape from their dead-end lives. When some townsfolk return as animated corpses, John joins forces with police officer David Forester and elderly resident Henry Tanner, whose own past history with the train holds the key to thwarting it. Moran does an excellent job of conveying the desperation that drives people to seek salvation in the supernatural, but his treatment of the train is confusing, especially when a late-breaking discovery undermines much of the premise. The novel’s pyrotechnic finale plays out in conventional horror-novel fashion, but leaves many plot pints unresolved. (Nov.)