There is a very good haunted-house style opening in which Jack Reed discovers an abandoned, decrepit building called the Oaks, hidden from view for decades and forgotten. Jack wants to turn it into a country club, and in his effort to buy the place learns that 60 years ago, it was an asylum for the criminally insane - but one night they all disappeared. The ostensible criminal "leader," a truly despicable human called Quintus Miller, found Druid spellbooks in the warden's library - but of course - and in an attempt at freedom, led his fellow inmates into the very walls themselves. However, they were trapped by Father Bell, using his own Christian brand of hocus-pocus, and Quintus vows revenge, and "kidnaps" Jack's young son Randy by pulling him into the walls. But of course. Quintus wants out, wants some kind of eternal Druidic godhood, and plans on sacrificing not only Jack's son but hundreds of other innocent people. Masterton really knows how to ante up.
1991 UK paperback
Novels like Walkers are essentially critic-proof; what can I say about it? It's the sort of thing you'll like if this is the sort of thing you like. There's no depth or real thought here, no overarching theme or human concern, nothing to really talk about other than the many scenes of graphic horror which are, yes, cringingly gruesome and lovingly detailed. Masterton's characterization is crudely succinct and rather unimaginative: the blue-collar regular guy, the shrewish wife, the busty blonde who wears high heels everywhere, the resourceful British scholar. Masterton doesn't waste time trying to make dialogue believable, or even having his characters behave believably (particularly Jack's reaction after he realizes his son is missing, as well as the final chapter). But he's good at pacing and conjuring up a storyline solely for the payoff of those big, bloody scenes of horror: people getting dragged into walls and floors and through the bottoms of cars by the imprisoned madfolk and Masterton spares us no grisly detail.
Walkers isn't bad at all; it's fun but disposable, definitely one for fans of trashy '80s horror and Masterton himself. Just like The Manitou, there are moments of dated cultural insensitivity and a couple head-smacking bits of obvious dialogue. It's also got a crazy final showdown between Jack and Quintus and the rotting corpse of a two-headed dog. If you like that sort of thing.