book is unusual for two reasons: It is somewhat of a departure from Armstrong’s
usual style of suspense and mystery as it borders on science fiction. The
second reason is the weird coincidence it evokes as follows:
Armstrong passed away after a six-month battle with lung cancer on July 19,
1969. Most anyone over about 70 years
old will easily recall that was the exact date of Man’s first landing on the
moon, and that man was Neil Armstrong, who soon became known to the family
as “Cousin Neil.” We have no idea if there is any truth to that, but the idea
was reinforced when we learned that N. Armstrong’s middle name is Alden and our
family knows well that we are descendants of John Alden of Mayflower fame.
putting these two facts together it was Neil Armstrong who had one of the first
seats to the moon, so how clairvoyant was Charlotte Armstrong? The book was her
next to last and was published on January 1 of that year, so she certainly knew
of Cousin Neil’s role in that epic journey.
bizarre coincidence was that it was the same night of the tragic accident at
Chappaquiddick. The link between that and the moon landing became better known
with the 2017 movie about that accident.
back to the story, based on the description from Mysterious Press:
businessman J. Middleton Little is on company assignment in Chicago when he’s
caught eavesdropping on a top-secret confab between high-level government
officials. J. knows he isn’t just hearing things; they actually referred to the
coming Armageddon. To ensure his silence, J.’s been offered the chance of a
lifetime: seven seats on an “ark” scheduled to carry the last vestiges of the
human race from Earth before the apocalypse. In a matter of minutes, J. has
gone from a self-described “middle-class, middle-income, middlebrow
man-of-the-street” to one of the most privileged men in the universe. The only
stipulation: He can’t tell a single soul until the proper time.
For now, it’s back to life in Burbank with his dutiful, intuitive wife; an underhanded and scheming son; his impossibly spoiled daughter; his unhinged father; and a mother-in-law whose religious fanaticism is making J. think twice about his role as savior—especially when he finds himself shadowed by an insidious pack of secret agents, counterspies, and a lone madman on a terrifying mission.
All in all a great read for any fan of Charlotte Armstrong.