Midnight Cab

( 3 )

Overview

"A terrified three-year-old boy is found clinging to a wire fence at the side of a country road. His mother had whispered to him, "Never let go," then vanished. The only clue found by authorities as to the child's identity is a photograph of two summering teenage girls and a letter presumably written from one to the other." Sixteen years later, Walker Devereaux is in Toronto to discover the truth about his biological mother, of whom he has a dim memory. Working as an after-hours cabdriver, Walker befriends Krista, a demanding, pretty,
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Overview

"A terrified three-year-old boy is found clinging to a wire fence at the side of a country road. His mother had whispered to him, "Never let go," then vanished. The only clue found by authorities as to the child's identity is a photograph of two summering teenage girls and a letter presumably written from one to the other." Sixteen years later, Walker Devereaux is in Toronto to discover the truth about his biological mother, of whom he has a dim memory. Working as an after-hours cabdriver, Walker befriends Krista, a demanding, pretty, wheelchair-bound night dispatcher. Krista and Walker become fast friends, and she can't help but involve herself with Walker's quest to understand his shrouded identity. Soon enough, though, their off-hours sleuthing turns perilous. Walker and Krista's trajectory through darkened Toronto streets and the eerie, densely wooded countryside veers this duo ever closer to that of another abandoned boy who has transformed himself into the embodiment of his own desperate, violent, and sinister pathologies.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Adapted from a popular Canadian radio drama, this light, engaging first novel by playwright Nichol is a coming-of-age story steeped in mystery. Abandoned by the roadside at the age of three, 19-year-old Walker Devereaux sets off to find his birth parents with the aid of only two clues: a photo of his mother as a child and a cryptic letter to her from her best friend. In pursuit of his past, he leaves his adoptive family and girlfriend in Big River and moves to Toronto, where he finds work on the graveyard shift at a cab company. He falls in with his dispatcher, the attractive, wheelchair-bound Krista Papadopoulos. Together, they follow the trail of Walker's parents as it leads from Toronto's chic Forest Hill neighborhood to the shores of Lake Erie and finally to Kingston, Jamaica. Nichol weaves in the story of Bobby, an animal-torturing, Hannibal Lechter-like character who Walker must confront if he is to learn his family's dark past. In an attempt to dissuade them from probing further, Bobby sets Krista's car on fire and kills Walker's cat, Kerouac. Undeterred, Walker soldiers on. Nichol's instincts as a playwright serve him well. The dialogue between Walker and Krista is quick and playful, and though the suspense rarely builds to Hitchcockian heights, the novel is well paced and the pages turn quickly. (Jan.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
KLIATT - Nola Theiss
When Walker Devereaux was three, he was left on the side of a rural road near Big River, Ontario. Although he was adopted by a big family, when he turns 19 he seeks out information about his birth parents. This leads him to Toronto to try to find his mother. His only clues are a picture of two teenage girls, one presumably his mother, and a letter written by one of the girls to the other, his mother Lennie. Once he arrives in Toronto, he gets a job driving a cab at night and become involved with Krista Papadopoulos, a young woman in a wheelchair who works as a dispatcher for the cab company. Soon he meets another character named Bobby who is a psychopath. Bobby shares a similar background of abandonment and proves to be a danger to Walker. It is only Krista's ability to unravel Walker's past and to help him follow the clues to his identity that leads him back to the beginning and to safety and knowledge. As the author explains in his acknowledgement, this story was first told in 35 parts as a Canadian radio drama and although it is written as a novel, it retains the dramatic and suspenseful tone of its original format. The characters are young and take charge of their lives, in spite of their handicaps and their unknown pasts, and they will appeal to YAs.
Kirkus Reviews
The Canadian playwright's first novel, based on his own radio drama and first published in his native country in 2002, traces the links across a generation between two lost boys. Walker Devereaux remembers his mother leaving him clinging tightly to a wire fence when he was three years old. And he has a letter that seems to have been written to Lennie, his absent mom, by her school friend Kim, plus a photo that presumably shows the two girls together. But that's all he knows about Lennie or his own early life. At 19, he leaves his adoptive family in Big River to trace a possible lead to Toronto, where he finds a cheap apartment, a night job driving a cab, and a rapidly blooming friendship with Krista Papadopoulos, his wheelchair-bound dispatcher. What he doesn't find is Lennie. In fact, somebody seems to have a special interest in frustrating his search-somebody who breaks into his place, steals the letter and photo, sets fire to Krista's car, and kills a cat who's adopted Walker in turn. Undeterred by these obligatory threats, he traces Lennie to a suburban Ontario town and,ultimately, to Jamaica. As Walker zeroes in on his goal, Nichol keeps flashing back to the story of Bobby Nuremborski, a disturbed little boy 16 years older than Walker who becomes an even more disturbing young man under pressure from his demanding, protective father and his shameful attraction to other boys. Though it's obvious that these two stories will collide, and almost equally obvious how, Nichol keeps tension high by slipping off-kilter new characters into the deck and dangling repeated false solutions in front of Walker until it's finally time to bring his two frightened children face to face. A highlyeffective thriller that freshens familiar scenes, dodges, and themes by fleshing them out with an appealingly new cast.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781841957920
  • Publisher: Canongate Books
  • Publication date: 4/28/2006
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Pages: 337
  • Sales rank: 1,210,394
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author


James W. Nichol has been a prominent playwright in Canada since 1970. MIDNIGHT CAB was inspired by his immensely popular CBC radio drama of the same name. He lives in the country near Stratford, Ontario.
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First Chapter

Chapter One

1995


Three-year-old Walker Devereaux is standing near a road, though he's too short to see it. Tall grass surrounds him, grass the tawny colour of a lion's mane in the late afternoon sun. Occasionally, cars swish by.

He holds onto a square of wire fence with all his might and stares through it towards more grass angling sharply up a hill, and silvery moss further up, and towering shelves of black rock.

"Hold on," she had whispered, "hold on tight." Her shadow over him, her dark hair descending, covering his face, her warm breath against his ear.

But he already was holding on, so tight the wire was cutting into his hands, so afraid of something or someone that he didn't dare shift his eyes from that square of wire, or the grass. And then she was gone.

The rusty wire turns his hands orange, the afternoon sun gets colder. He begins to sway. The hill bends over him, the tall grass marches by him like an army on the move, chattering, banners flying against the sky. Still he struggles to listen to the sound of the approaching cars, each one bringing his mother back, each one passing by.

And then one stops.

He hears the slam of a car door. His heart leaps but he can't turn to see, he's stuck to the fence by now. All he can do is cling there in the dusk and stare up the hill and wait.

A man's voice rings out. "I told you. Come on up here. Look at this."

He can hear the man rustling through the grass. A puffy red face bobs out of the gloom, suspends itself beside his ear.

"Let go of the fence, son," the red face says.

But he can't, even though he tries, so the man has to reach out and pryhis fingers off the wire, one at a time.

"Jesus God," the man says.




That was the beginning of everything, nineteen-year-old Walker Devereaux's first memory. He had been abandoned; not left in the care of a friend, or with the Children's Aid, or even in some bleak motel room, but dropped off at the side of a road like an unwanted puppy. And always the question, the aching question, why?

The bus lurched. Traffic began to slow down, an unbroken line of cars and campers and boat trailers, as weekenders tried to shoehorn themselves back into Toronto on a Sunday night.

Walker stared out his window. So many people, big-city people. He was already beginning to feel like a small-town dork.

He looked down at his worn jeans. He had a tear in the right knee, but in his case it wasn't a matter of fashion, it was just a tear.

He tried to stretch out his legs without touching the middle-aged woman crammed into the seat beside him. they'd sat there together for the better part of sixteen hours, unavoidably rubbing elbows from time to time but saying almost nothing. Once, she'd got out a Kleenex to dab at some tears. Walker hadn't known what to say, so he hadn't said anything. He'd assumed she was lonely, because he was lonely, for his adoptive family, for his friends. And for Cathy.

One thing about his family, they all stuck together. They'd thrown him a big party the night before, and there they were early the next morning — everyone but his mother and his three younger sisters hungover, heads pounding — standing bravely in the bright morning sun on the main street of Big River, waiting for the bus to pull in from Thunder Bay.

And when it did, all six of his sisters began advising him on how to survive in the big city, as if they knew, his three brothers-in-law shook his hand, and Gerard Devereaux, a forester all his life, a drinker all his life, stayed silent as usual amidst the female cacophony, but he looked straight into Walker's eyes as if he didn't expect to see him any time soon. Mary Louise Devereaux's arms were suddenly around his neck, and her lips were fiercely on his cheek and lips; his best friend Stewey helped him stow his duffel bag in the belly of the bus, and all his friends and family gathered around and said, good luck, Walker. Good luck!

But Cathy stayed away. He had known she would. One night, parked in his old truck, she'd said, "Walker, this doesn't have anything to do with me."

"You could come along," Walker had said, not really meaning it. "See the world."

"You stupid ass," she had replied, turning her face away.

He could have kissed her. He could have whispered, "I don't want to lose you." He could have smelled her delicious smell, mixed in with that perfume she was always dabbing behind her ears that drove him crazy, he could have drawn her to him one more time and cupped her breasts in his hands and murmured, "We can go, we can stay. As long we we're together, Cath, that's all I care about," and they would have steamed up the truck one more time. But he didn't. Because there was more to it than just his desire to see the world. He'd discovered something. Something he didn't want to tell anyone.

"I'm going, Cath," he'd said.
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 21, 2004

    Midnight Cab

    Nineteen years old Walker Devereaux leaves his adopted home in Big River for Toronto, but not with the youthful vigor of living in the big city; Walker is obsessed to learn about his past starting with why his mom Lennie abandoned him on an isolated road when he was three. He has a clue from someone who apparently knew his mom; a letter that was written to Lennie from her school friend Kim that includes a picture of two girls that Walker assumes one is his mom....................... In Toronto Walker obtains work driving a cab on a graveyard shift and a friend he deeply likes is wheelchair-bound dispatcher Krista Papadopoulos. Her brilliance enables Walker to follow clues that take him initially to the exclusive upper crust Forest Hill neighborhood and eventually to Jamaica. However, someone wants Walker and Krista to stop or else; perhaps that unknown culprit is the seemingly deranged Bobby Nuremborski who Walker must confront if he is to close in on the truth about what happened to his mother..................... MIDNIGHT CAB is a solid suspense thriller starring two delightful lead protagonists whose banter lightens a dark tale. The prime story line is Walker¿s quest, but a subplot involving how crazy Bobby is will chill the audience who know that the two men will collide, but doubt whether the hero will survive. Interestingly in spite of wonderfully placed false leads and red herring missteps, fans know the altercation is coming so the suspense is somewhat muted when it does. Still James W. Nichols writes an intriguing entertaining thriller that will keep readers attention throughout......................................... Harriet Klausner

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 21, 2004

    Midnight Cab

    Nineteen years old Walker Devereaux leaves his adopted home in Big River for Toronto, but not with the youthful vigor of living in the big city; Walker is obsessed to learn about his past starting with why his mom Lennie abandoned him on an isolated road when he was three. He has a clue from someone who apparently knew his mom; a letter that was written to Lennie from her school friend Kim that includes a picture of two girls that Walker assumes one is his mom.............................. . In Toronto Walker obtains work driving a cab on a graveyard shift and a friend he deeply likes is wheelchair-bound dispatcher Krista Papadopoulos. Her brilliance enables Walker to follow clues that take him initially to the exclusive upper crust Forest Hill neighborhood and eventually to Jamaica. However, someone wants Walker and Krista to stop or else; perhaps that unknown culprit is the seemingly deranged Bobby Nuremborski who Walker must confront if he is to close in on the truth about what happened to his mother........................... MIDNIGHT CAB is a solid suspense thriller starring two delightful lead protagonists whose banter lightens a dark tale. The prime story line is Walker¿s quest, but a subplot involving how crazy Bobby is will chill the audience who know that the two men will collide, but doubt whether the hero will survive. Interestingly in spite of wonderfully placed false leads and red herring missteps, fans know the altercation is coming so the suspense is somewhat muted when it does. Still James W. Nichols writes an intriguing entertaining thriller that will keep readers attention throughout............................ Harriet Klausner

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 5, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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