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CR3 #89: In the Night Room by Peter Straub

Up until now, I've mostly enjoyed Peter Straub's books. I found the plots interesting and the characters compelling. I also enjoyed the way they were all slightly related to one another, by either plot or character. However, this book seems to be where he went down the rabbit hole.

In the Night Room features Tim Underhill, who has previously appeared in Koko and The Throat. Underhill is living in NYC, working on his latest novel, when he begins to have a problem. The ghost of his nine-year-old sister April (whose murder was unraveled in The Throat) has started appearing to him, trying to communicate a very important message he can't quite figure out. He's also started receiving emails from dead people, which is disconcerting, to say the least. He's not sure what's going on, and when his "guide" turns up, he's not nearly as helpful as one would hope. Meanwhile, in New Jersey, a woman named Willy Bryce Patrick has been losing chunks of time, she suspects her fiance might not be what he seems, and she hears the calls of her dead daughter from the inside of a produce warehouse. Soon, these two characters are drawn together by fate...or are they?

I think frankly this book got a little too "meta" with the "author-writing-a-book-within-a-book-about-himself" thing. Although I like Tim, I suspect it has more to do with liking him a lot in the two previous books, rather than anything that was added to his character here. And while Willy was pretty cool, she didn't really get enough time to actually do anything. The side characters were okay, but nothing to write home about. The plot barely made sense to me, so I can't really say I liked that too much. I get the sense that perhaps there was another book that belonged between The Throat and In the Night Room, and maybe if I'd read that, it would make more sense? I just don't know.

This book is okay, but I'd only recommend it for the hard-core Straub enthusiast. Perhaps if I ever find the book that belongs in the middle of the series I'll be able to appreciate In the Night Room more effectively.

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