Fiction Reviews


Nocturnal

(2012) Scott Sigler, Hodder, trdpbk, 12.99, 566pp, ISBN 978-1-444-70096-1

 

San Francisco cops, Bryan Klauser and Pookie Chang begin the investigation of the death of a homeless child abusing priest. But as they begin to investigate, they discover that information about early murders has been suppressed. Bryan begins to dream about other murders before they happen. Meanwhile, under the city, the creatures responsible for the deaths are looking for the one that they will hail as their king.

This novel is a good revitalisation of the concept of urban fantasy horror. The tone of the novel is nearer to a crime story then an urban fantasy, with the focus on people who work in law enforcement. The scientific explanations for the monsters, unearthed though pathology and biology examinations fits into this style.

It reads as if Sigler has a lot of fun creating this world, in particular the domain that the creatures inhabit. Another similarity with crime fiction, is a sense that things are not simply black and white morality. The character who becomes the main villain is somebody who has had a horrible life but ends up going into the realms of becoming a moral monster. The people have been keeping up the conspiracy of suppression are presented as having reasons for doing it. There are members of the creatures who just see themselves as trying to preserve their own kind, whatever methods they have to use on them. However the novel does feel rushed within a hundred pages of the ending. This is when the text is trying to wind up the narrative and at the same time, set it up for a sequel or continuing adventures of one character. This does undercut the climax, although the narrative still does come with a few surprises before the end.

Despite the rushed ending, the novel is still entertaining, with an interesting mythology. It benefits from the infusion of elements from the crime genre giving it an approach that does feel fresh. Anybody who enjoys horror stories set within cites, should give it a try.

David Allkins


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