Book review

Shaun Hutson
Time Warner

HybridSweet Jesus. This is a tough novel to contemplate. Shaun Hutson has always been pretty damn reliable when it comes to defending his territory. Reliable in the way that you always know what you're going to get - the literary equivalent of Iron Maiden maybe. So what gives?

Hutson's previous work, Compulsion, was good. Very good. Hybrid though is just plain . . . disjointed? To illustrate: A best selling author begins to struggle with his career. His dark night of the soul turns into a dark few weeks until pages of a novel mysteriously begin to appear from a computer he thinks is turned off. With his sanity on the line, he sets up a video to film the happenings, only to find he could never have imagined such terror . . .
    Still with me? Good. That part of the novel is great. Exceptional characterisation makes Christopher Ward someone you can't possibly identify with, but still feel two steps away from - maybe it's the slide down the ladder that makes it so tangible. It has all the pace we're used to, all the makings of a real corker . . . and up to a point it's a very difficult book to put down . . . so what went wrong?
    While the premise of the story is great in theory; in practice it's a bit tainted. The novel churned out from the author's computer in the dead of night is a sub standard 'IRA thriller' produced in-between the chapters of Hybrid in it's entirety. My first mistake/problem was to assume that the author in question is a horror writer. Sorry, but that's just where you go with these things. We've all read far too many books to think otherwise. So when we find that he's not, and that he's written a thriller, it's a double disappointment.
    It's not badly written, but I found myself hurtling through the 'thriller' bits to get back to the 'horror' bits. You will too - it's made all the easier to do when the 'two books' are published in different typefaces. Open the door and walk right in! It does calm down towards the end, but by then the damage is done. Quite honestly, I'd forgotten who I was reading about and which characters I was supposed to be following.

Shaun Hutson is no fool. He can write with the best and hold his own. Hats off for pushing the boundaries if that was the intention. Hats back on if this is the future. Deadhead or Relics it ain't, but then again, it's not The Bone Collector either and therein lies the problem.

:: Sion Smith

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