Trevor Lawson, supernatural detective and vampire fighting to keep his humanity, returns from the novella I Travel by Night for another case. This one will take him far from his New Orleans home, to the snow-covered Montana mining town of Perdition. Eric, the son of Lawson’s wealthy client, was roped into a gang of outlaws against his will, and it’s up to Lawson and his sharpshooting sidekick Ann Remington to bring him back. Of course, nothing is that easy: the attempt to free Eric leaves an innocent bystander bleeding out, and the only hope of saving her life is to take the last train from Perdition to the hospital in Helena. And having spurned the embrace of the vampiric Dark Society, Lawson has been hunted across the States by bloodsuckers hoping to return him to the fold—or feast upon him. As the train comes under assault by vampires, friend and foe must band together in hopes of survival.
I don’t feel that Lawson’s characterization was as strong as in I Travel by Night, but on the bright side, it means McCammon can focus more on the plot and action in Last Train. And geez, does he deliver. The action scenes in the first Lawson book were good, but the last few chapters of Last Train are a brutal shootout and vampiric assault on the train that should keep your eyes glued to the page. I’m also glad to see that Lawson’s sidekick, whip-smart sharpshooter Ann, has made a return after being introduced in the first book. She’s an interesting character, seeking to release her family after they were taken and turned by LaRouge; she adds a bit of humanity to balance Lawson’s descent into vampirism. I’m also glad that she and Lawson have avoided falling into some predictable romance, which I find an overused trope in supernatural literature.
These novellas by McCammon are quick, engaging reads, and I think Last Train from Perdition is a titch better than its predecessor. Maybe it’s because the reader’s already been introduced to Lawson, giving us some familiarity with his character and goals while freeing up space for plot and action. Maybe it’s because the writing is sharper, the tension more taut, the finale more visceral and action-packed. Maybe it’s because it ends with a striking revelation which doesn’t just leave the door open for a sequel, it necessitates one. Whatever the reason, Last Train from Perdition is great carefree entertainment, a fun blend of horror and historical fiction. It’s not highbrow literature, and doesn’t quite hit the same peaks as McCammon’s best novels, but makes for several hours of fun reading on a gloomy October eve. Anyone who perks up when they see the words “vampire western” should enjoy this one.
Title: Last Train from Perdition
Author: Robert McCammon
First Published Date: 2016
What I Read: ebook (Subterranean Press)
Price I Paid: $0 (e-ARC from NetGalley and SubPress)
MSRP: $35 hc / $5.99 ebook
ISBN/ASIN: 1596067381 / B01LXWPLGE