By John Kimbro (Ballantine; 1976)
Yes, that cover photo is a grabber without question. It’s also wildly misleading, suggesting at the very least a fun sexploiter with sci fi overtones. Yet NIGHT OF TEARS is actually a tepid and uneventful potboiler that attempts to blend three distinct subgenres–gothic romance, alien invasion and crime thriller–into a not-very-satisfying whole.
Maura is a reporter summoned to a secluded New Hampshire mansion to investigate some alleged UFO sightings. She’s skeptical but can’t deny the otherworldly weirdness of her situation, which commences with a unidentified phone caller commanding her to take the job and a chauffeur named Voul who acts seriously weird, yet perfectly embodies all Maura’s ideals of male desirability.
Equally strange is the mansion itself, run by a highly eccentric family and beset by a mysterious something that lands in the night. The family’s members have a tendency to leave the house on far-flung errands, and the reason for this, we learn, is that they’re drug-pushers using the mansion as their base of operation.
As for Voul, he is, as you might have suspected, an alien. Maura falls in love with him, but of course he has to head back to his home planet when his mission–to expose the family’s nefarious doings–is complete, leaving Maura alone. Yes, the relationship between these two, and its denouement, is quite sappy, with Maura learning that “It’s great to be a career woman and stand on one’s own two feet, and I like that. Still, I need companionship…and someone with whom to discover the true meaning of life.”
Getting back to that cover image (the main reason, I’ll confess, I bothered reading this thing), none of the carnality depicted in that photo is evident in the text, which contents itself with lingering kisses and chastely described PG-rated fantasizing. Nor is the back cover description, which proclaims the heroine is “chosen” by Voul to “learn the ultimate ecstasies of life…and death,” at all accurate. In short, the novel is a misleading and misrepresented bore.