Midnight on Mourn Street is a haunting, exquisitely written novel of secret guilt, regret, and revenge. Reed Walters is a lonely, quiet, middle-aged man who leads a lonely, quiet life. He has a secret, and everything he does in life is geared toward keeping that secret safe.
Though he’s well off, thanks to an inheritance from his father, he lives in a rundown apartment in a seedy part of town. His only friend is a young black student who dreams of education and culture. Together they spend many enjoyable hours talking about classical music, art, and literature.
One day Reed meets a teenaged runaway named Mauri. Mauri is everything Reed is not – flashy, volatile, impetuous, and unpredictable. Since she’s in pretty bad shape when they meet — ill, dirty, pale and hungry — Reed invites her to stay with him for a few days. His intentions, however, are totally innocent. Mauri accepts, having nowhere else to go.
From the bizarre chemistry that develops between Reed and Mauri we know something more sinister is at work in their relationship. On the surface, Mauri seems happy and warm around him. He in turn appears delighted with her company, especially when Reed’s student friend joins them for lively discussions. However, there’s always an underlying cold edge to Mauri.
Who is she? Why did she suddenly appear in Reed’s life? Does she have a hidden agenda? What are Mauri and Reed’s secrets?
I found this book to be a compelling psychological thriller. The best part is the prose isn’t written like a regular commercial novel, but like a literary novel instead. The dialogue is darkly engaging with just the right amount of delicately suggested menace.
Christopher Conlon does a great job creating an atmosphere of threat and anticipation. We know there’s something odd going on, but what? While I found Reed to be a very sympathetic character, Mauri is hard to come to terms with – that is until the shocking conclusion, when we find out the reason for her mean and explosive behavior.
The pace is a bit slow at times, but I don’t see this as a weakness. Some novels are meant to be savored, and, as I mentioned before, this isn’t your regular commercial thriller. The story slowly ascends until the terrible, heart-wrenching climax. This is one of those novels with only a few characters. Apart from Reed, Mauri, and Reed’s friend, there are practically no other characters in the novel.
Conlon’s writing style is evocative and elegant, and his prose flows with a lot of personality and pulse. This is an engrossing, gripping novel that will satisfy the most sophisticated readers.