When freelance photographer Joe Creed sets out to capture a series of photos at the funeral of a famous actress, he gets the chance to take a few snaps of a strange old man at the graveside. But developing the pictures leads him into a mystery – one he can’t easily explain. Learning the name of his unwitting subject and what it could mean if turns out to be true, only adds inconceivable reasoning to an already unsettling tale. With the help of an attractive ally, Creed sets out to discover just what the hell is going on.
Sometimes the very thing that grabs a reader’s attention (in terms of an author’s style), is the same thing that can get a little annoying after a while – similar scenarios, use of language etc. And when that happens, sometimes it’s best to just leave that particular writer alone for a while and spread your readery wings further afield.
I first got into James Herbert’s books in the late Seventies, when horror novels were coming back into fashion. With books like ‘The Rats’, ‘The Fog’ and ‘The Dark’, I found stories that had just the right amount of blood, guts and scary stuff to keep me interested for several years. Nevertheless, as I grew (perhaps) a little too familiar with the plots, other authors caught my attention and I veered away from Britain’s most prolific horror writer. Now, with a suitable gap of twenty-odd years, I’m getting back to where my interest in the genre started.
Joe Creed is a fascinating and realistic character and his chaotic exploits kept me eagerly turning the pages as the plot developed arms, legs and devilish tails, but I did find the author’s inclination to comment on the story as it went along a little irritating. So while I’m more than happy to give the book five stars for its entertainment value alone, I don’t think this is James Herbert’s best work – it doesn’t quite capture the audacity and excitement of his early writing and the unexpected twists are less twisty and not so unexpected.
Nonetheless, this novel did renew my interest and those early books will, I’m sure, stand up to another look, so I’ll be returning to James Herbert again soon – The Rats are coming…