Archive for gruesome

HELL TO PAY By Shaun Hutson – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 23, 2012 by stanleyriiks

This book from 2004, follows a similar pattern to Hutson’s other “horror’ thrillers of the time such as White Ghost.  Around this time, Huston seems to leave the supernatural horror of his previous books behind and head into this new “thriller” territory. Normally there would still be plenty of violence and disturbing gruesome descriptions (that Hutson’s known for) to up the ante on the usual thrillers out there.

Hell to Pay follows the same principles, including the various plot-lines intersecting towards the end for a climactic showdown.

Nikki Reed is in trouble, big trouble. Her and her husband owe the local gangster twenty thousand pounds, most of it spent down the bookies and gambled away, the rest spent on Playstation 2s and similar unrequired accessories. They have until the end of the week to find the money, or they’re likely to be killed by the loan shark, who is already threatening them with violence.

Roma Todd is having an affair. Her husband is virtually estranged, spending all of his time at work and providing little in the way of parental support for their ill daughter Kirsten.

Detective Inspector Fielding is called to another murder. A young boy found washed up by a lake. The third child to be killed. Is it a serial killer they are looking for or a paedophile? Or both? With few clues to follow the police are searching for any lead they can get.

So these three plot lines will eventually intersect, but the climatic action denouement that you would expect ultimately fails to be realised. There is a slight twist, but not enough to satisfy.

One of the great things about Hutson’s novels is the pop-culture references, but reading a book that’s eight years old mean searching through the annals of history. That’s not Hutson’s fault obviously, the fact the book has been lying on my shelf for eight years though is down to the dissatisfied feeling I had after reading White Ghost. That is Hutson’s fault.

Ultimately Hutson is a decent writer who has moved away from what he was good at, writing horror novels, to have a go at the more lucrative thriller market where he does not excel. Nowadays Gary McMahon does urban horror with a much better grasp of the intricacies of modern youth culture, and a better handle on violence and atmosphere.

To write off Hutson as a has-been based on a book written eight years ago is far too harsh. Some of his novels, those that I grew up with such as Nemesis, Death Day, and Relics, are classic British horror. I need to read a more recent Hutson novel to make a more informed decision, and because of his former skill he can’t be written off after a couple of decent, if not impressive, horror thrillers. Decision pending…

PRETTY LITTLE DEAD THINGS By Gary McMahon – Reviewed

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Harrowing. If I had to sum up this book in one word it would be that one. Disturbing, horrifying, terrifying, creepy, gruesome, unsavoury, rotten, nasty, filthy would all work too. This is the kind of book that makes you want a shower afterwards. The kind that leaves a lingering sense of decay, one that takes a little part of your soul with it. There are horror novels, and there are Gary McMahon horror novels. He is simply in a different class.

Thomas Usher’s was driving when a car crash killed his wife and daughter. He survived, but quickly found he had been left with a terrible, horrible gift. Usher can see the dead. But if you think this is going to be Haley Joel Osmond in The Sixth Sense, or Jonah Hex or Odd Thomas, then you are so very wrong. Usher’s guilt-filled existence is horrible enough, but he happens to be following a young woman who is murdered (the third to be hung), and his friend is related to a young girl who is abducted. How are the abduction and the murders related, and can Usher uses the powers that he’s been trying to suppress for the past year to help solve the cases?

McMahon builds a gritty world of urban decay, his human characters are just as revolting, gruesome and disturbing as the supernatural elements. Our narrator and protagonist, guilt-riddled as he is, is the only faint hope we have.

As depressingly realistic, as nasty and brutal as this novel is, you have to read on. You must. There is a grinding darkness that saps your will to escape. McMahon’s first Usher novel is a stupendous feat of hideousness. In the best possible way. This is horror as it’s most revealing. You cannot read this book and not feel unclean, untouched. McMahon does what the best writers do, he makes you feel. You feel disgust, you feel slightly sick, you feel relief. McMahon makes you hurt. Pretty Little Dead Things should be McMahon’s break out novel, this should be a best seller, every horror fan must read this book. They will find out what they’ve been missing all these years. Pretty Little Dead Things is hardcore. Unrelentingly dark and terribly atmospheric, you have not read a horror novel until you have read a McMahon horror novel.

Never, in over twenty years of reading horror, have I been so intensely disturbed by a novel.

Pretty Little Dead Things is sublime. Real horror at it’s very worst (meaning best). Hardcore horror. Not for the faint of heart.