Graham Masterton is best known for his 1975 novel The Manitou, in which a tumour growing on a woman’s back turns out to be a mystical shaman or something. He also has a novel wherein, I believe, the DNA of the offspring of a half man – half tree is input into Captain Black, “America’s biggest pig”, and all hell presumably breaks loose. So he’s definitely something of an ideas man.
In Walkers, grotesquely unlikable protagonist Jack Reed, who over the course of the story unwittingly causes the deaths of hundreds, possibly thousands of innocent people, has his son kidnapped by the spirits of 137 lunatics who are trapped in the walls of an asylum. And I mean in the walls, actually part of the bricks and mortar. So far so good, and the previous Masterton novel that I read, Charnel House, took a similarly bananas premise and really ran with it, a terrific exercise in pulp brevity. Walkers, on the other hand, was published in the late 80s, and it feels like what should be 200 pages of trashy fun bloated to 350 pages at the behest of a Stephen King obsessed editor. “Hey Graham, big books sell, man. Big books are hot right now. Add another 150 pages. What’dya mean you don’t have enough story? Just describe the interior of the asylum again.”
This causes a lot of repetition, Jack keeps going back to the asylum again and again and again, each time bringing along someone new to die, then there’s an interminable bit of business with a dowsing rod, and pages and pages of Jack discussing Druid earth magic with a professor over drinks, while outside girl scouts and grannies are being pulled into the ground and murdered.
There’s enough here to enjoy for a while, but its just paced too poorly to be effective. Walkers? Meanders, more like.
THIS EDITION: Warner Books, 1993
MODELLED BY: Boris the Pug