29. Edge of Darkness – Joan Banks
This is one of those lovely little horror paperbacks I found at the Salvation Army in basically mint condition. And it’s not really horror, it’s a suspenseful thriller, but whatever. There’s nothing in here that’s remotely supernatural except for this one guy who plays that “developmentally challenged magic person” role. It starts off like The Vanishing, which is a movie that scares me nearly to death (not the Keifer one, I haven’t even seen the Keifer one) and always enters my mind on road trips with Mr. Cheese – we don’t get to see each other enough as it is, the idea that he disappears from the gas station… I don’t like to think of it and I shouldn’t because I’m already anxious as hell. Also, I’m the one who is supposed to disappear from the gas station but I’m not sure I would, because clearly kidnappers would sense that I’m the one that’s the most paranoid about it.
Anyway, this couple stops at a diner and the husband goes to the restroom and NEVER RETURNS. So, his wife does what any sane person would do in a town that clearly follows its own rules: she goes home, comes back in disguise, and takes matters into her own hands. With her machine gun leg – I wish. Really, she becomes a waitress and then tries to avoid being hit on by the sheriff, by the pregnant other waitress’s boyfriend, by this guy with a belt buckle, and also tries to avoid her insane landlady. Someone puts a dead rat on her pillow, which shocked me to no end. You can’t just wash the pillow case in that situation. She eventually finds another person in disguise that is also looking for her husband and somehow her boss at her hometown-not-a-disguised-waitress-job cares enough about her to show up in the town and bring her stuff. The town’s economy, shock, runs on pot, and they don’t like outsiders. It’s a story about the triumph of the human spirit.