Case in point: "After the First Death" is a novel about a multitude of serious themes, all carefully woven into an unforgettable novel. Do you read books and promptly forget them? But there are those you never forget. "After the First Death" is one of these. Although the publication date is 1979, terrorists of some unnamed, occupied country (Palestine?) plot the takeover of a school-bus filled with kindergarten children with ransom as their plan. I'm not sure if total explosion was part of the plan at the end.
The title refers to the death of the first victim because of candy laced with medication to make the children calm and sleep. Once that first death happens, they are in deep. The main assistant is just a young boy, 15 or so, who has been trained, along with his brother, now deceased, since childhood. Artkin takes them and trains them to be terrorists, to serve his will at his pleasure. The point of the takeover, despite ransom threatenings, is to decimate a special forces service buried deep in secrecy. The general's son is used as bait, with the general quite cognizant that his son will be tortured. The substitute bus driver, a girl who is also young, is the last key player.
People die in Cormier books or they are destroyed in some way, but I was hoping for better in this one. Cormier never plays safe or by the heart: he plays by reality and so it is in this book. This is a story that lingers....
The next book is "In the Middle of the Night." Quietly laced in the midst of the terror is a pleasing, unexpected love story. When Denny's father was just 16, he was involved in a theater fire that killed several children and maimed several others. The fire was an accident, the young boy was declared innocent, but tell that to a warped mind intent on revenge. Every year during the week of the anniversary of the fire, he receives a phone call in the middle of the night. Newspapers publish stories about the fire and Denny's father must move again. He never reacts except to forbid his son NEVER EVER answer the phone. During the anniversary week when he is 16, he answers the phone. That's when he learns his father's story. Research in the library answers further questions. However, the main problem is that he is drawn into a telephone romance with this woman, who sounds so delicious to him. Figure the math--he does and discards--no one with a voice like this can be as old as his father. Remember, she is out for revenge. That's as far as I will tell. I liked this book but not as much as the first one reviewed.