Hunted Past Reason is a major literary event: Richard Matheson's first new novel in seven years -- and a gripping tale of madness, paranoia, and murder. It's supposed to be just an ordinary camping trip, two old friends hiking through the wilderness toward a remote cabin in the woods of northern California. At the publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied.
Testosterone, envy and smoldering psychopathology transform a weekend hiking trip into a lean, mean Darwinian struggle for survival. Making the most of his trademark less-is-more style, Matheson (Nightmare at 20,000 Feet, etc.) spins a clash of ideologies between two acquaintances into a vision of the universe as existential hell. Level-headed Bob Hansen is on his way up as a screenwriter and novelist; temperamental Doug Crowley is on his way down as an actor, husband and father. Doug, an experienced outdoorsman, has agreed to help Bob research his next novel with a rugged trek through the forests of northern California. No sooner has Bob's wife, Marian, dropped the pair off and headed for the cabin where they'll meet four days later than their irreconcilable differences emerge. Bob is at peace spiritually, while Doug believes "the world is a nightmare." A couple of near-death experiences a falling boulder, a threatening black bear seem to send the increasingly morose Doug into an emotional tailspin. Quicker than you can say Deliverance, Doug assaults Bob, then challenges him to reach the cabin before Doug kills him and takes Marian. Matheson makes every word count, orchestrating ordinary conversation into philosophical parries and building a thunderhead of tension from Doug's smugly superior opinions and willful misinterpretations. Through Bob's tortured thoughts during his desperate flight, Matheson strips all beauty from the wild surroundings to expose the underlying hostility and hunger in nature. Matheson's new novel shows him still the Hemingway of horror, a writer whose honed prose and primal themes articulate universal fears and dreads. (July) Forecast: With a Bram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement, an Edgar and a Writer's Guild Award (just to name a few), Matheson's a gold medalist, not to mention a bestseller, in the terror department. His devoted fans will snap up his first new novel in seven years, and they won't be disappointed though it's a little derivative of "The Most Dangerous Game," this is spine-tingling suspense. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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May 18, 2003
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Excerpt from Hunted Past Reason by Richard Matheson
"This is as good a place as any," Doug said, leaning forward on the backseat.
"Okay." Marian started to slow down the Bronco as it turned a curve to the right.
"By that fallen big-leaf maple'll be fine," Doug told her.
"Right." She eased the Bronco toward the right side of the road and braked slowly. The carpeting of yellow leaves crackled under the tires before Marian stopped the Bronco by the fallen tree.
"Perfect," Doug said.
Bob drew in a sudden, involuntary breath. "And so the adventure begins," he said, trying to sound pleased.
Marian looked at him as she switched off the engine. "You all right?" she whispered.
He nodded, smiling. "Fine," he said.
Doug opened the back door of the Bronco and got out. He stretched his arms upward, groaning as he arched his back. "Oh... boy," he muttered.
Marian looked worriedly at Bob. "Are you sure you're all right?" she asked.
"Yeah, why do you say that?" He managed a grin.
"Well--" She gestured vaguely. "You didn't sound too certain there."
"And so the adventure begins," she quoted.
"Oh." He laughed softly. "I'm a little nervous of course. I'm no kid. But I'm sure it's going to be fine."
In back, Doug had unlocked the hatchback door and was starting to lift it.
"You're comfortable then," Marian said.