Warning: Contains Spoilers.
Cop gets blown up, wakes up in the hospital – bloody hell!! – she’s suddenly an empth. This has precisely fuck all to do with the actual main story. There’s also a sub-plot about a serial killer who imitates other serial killers. This gets introduced as a pretty piss-poor character trait for one of the bad guys later on in the book, but realistically has bugger, sod, and bollocks all to do with the narrative. The lead doesn’t HAVE to be an empath because she uses it exactly knob all times to progress the story, and the ability fades after a few chapters anyway, leaving a half-arsed attempt at character building. As for the serial killer, he crops ups, blathers the usual Hannibal Lecter bollocks about tasting the very essence of death, and contributes knack all to the understanding of why he does what he does. Filler, in other words.
We can count my personal bugbear along with these traits as well – the chapter-consuming dream sequences. They’re pretty good dream sequences as far as they go, but as per usual they trundle along, fill up a bit of time, and then do a runner, never to have an impact on the story again.
Which is a pity, because the book – bar a hilariously awful sex scene – is pretty well written. When not poncing about with empathic bullshit and serial killer nonsense it’s got an interesting strain of ancient folklore running through it, such as when a couple of hunters stick a nail through the footprint of their prey to cripple him further along the line. The only problem is in the plotting and the villains. We get one of the wettest demons in history cropping up at the end, plus a bad guy who LOVES to explain exactly what’s going on with the plot, and does so at length. For three fucking chapters. Just endlessly banging on about ‘ancient rites’ this and ‘we must feed the crops’ that, until you’re wishing the main character would just shoot the bastard to shut him up.
The problem is, the book doesn’t know whether to be a serial killer novel or a book about ancient evil, and it ends up floundering somewhere in the middle. He probably had a great idea for both, but not enough material to stretch one of these ideas out to novel length, so shucked the lot together and hoped for the best, which is fine if you’re Shaun Hutson, who seems to be able to weave strands like these together without breaking a sweat, but not if you’re Marriotte, who seems to have trouble conjuring up a plausible through-line for the two different stories.
Saying that, I actually enjoyed the book for what it was – dressed up pulp fiction, and there’s nothing bloody wrong with that. It’s obvious Marriotte’s a fine writer, but I reckon he just needs to concentrate on his plotting a bit more.
Recommended, despite THE FUCKING DREAM SEQUENCES!