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Hunted Past Reason

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 30, 2002

    A Return To Greatness For Richard Matheson

    Many readers, myself included, have been disappointed by Richard Matheson's recent output of fiction. Now You See It..., 7 Steps To Midnight and Earthbound were less than satisfying; and the older, previously unpublished materials weren't up to the high standards of Matheson's brilliant writing. The Cemetery Dance novels, Passion Play and Camp Pleasant were decent novels, the latter title was especially so. His first attempt at a novel, Hunger & Thirst, was virtually unreadable to me. I haven't completely enjoyed any novels by Richard Matheson since his trio of Western books, Journal of the Gun Years, The Gun Fight and The Memoirs of Wild Bill Hickock. When I heard that a new novel by Richard Matheson was coming, I was excited about it. Rest assured, Hunted Past Reason is Richard Matheson at his best. I found it reminded me most of Hell House, in the way in was structured and the bleak tone of the book. Where Hell House dealt with supernatural horror, Hunted Past Reason has its feet firmly pressed in brutal reality. The premise is a simple one: A successful writer wishes to write a novel about backpacking, though he knows almost nothing about the subject. An unsuccessful actor is an expert backpacker and offers to take the writer on a 3-4 day hike in the Northern California wilderness. The writer is an idealist, who firmly believes in life after death and the basic decency of humankind. The actor is consumed with rage and resentment towards any who are more successful than him. The two principle charcaters only knew each other through brief social encounters. The writer soon learns that he didn't know the actor as well as he thought he did. Matheson's crisp prose elevates this material into a tense, terrifying story. The forest in Hunted Past Reason is scarier than The Belasco House. This harsh novel is perhaps Matheson's most gripping story yet. The protagonist goes through Hell in it, so much so that I almost felt like I was reading a Richard Laymon novel, instead of a Richard Matheson novel. Though as much as I like Laymon's fiction, Matheson is a far more powerful storyteller. He also adds an intellectual aspect to the story that elevates him above most other writers, as he injects his own philosophies into the tale. Yet he never allows his views on life slow this story down one bit. I read 250 pages in one almost nonstop sitting last night and I finished it first thing this morning. I give Hunted Past Reason my highest recommendation. Richard Matheson is back with one of his finest novels yet. And that, my friends, is just about as good as fiction gets.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 5, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    thrilling and chilling...

    Hunted Past Reason is one heck of a page turner. As some one else mentioned, this novel has similarities to Deliverance and The Most Dangerous Game. What starts out as a backpacking trip between two acquaintances turns into a deadly game with one of the men being hunted by the other. And is as horrifying as it sounds. What makes matters worse is the hunter is an experienced backpacker, while the hunted is an out of shape writer. As the synopsis reads, "...the enforced isolation of the hike soon exposes long-hidden rivalries and resentments between the two men. The deeper they get into the primeval wilderness and the farther from civilization, the greater the tension between them becomes-until the simmering hostility erupts into a terrifying life-or-death battle for survival!" The story was chilling and kept me reading long past my bedtime. As a bonus, I learned an awful lot about backpacking and wilderness survival.

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