Review: Thin Men With Yellow Faces / Author: Gary McMahon & Simon Bestwick / Publisher: This Is Horror / Release Date: 22nd September 2012 / RRP: £4.99

For the second release in the This Is Horror chapbook series, we have been almost spoilt with a collaboration between Gary McMahon (Pretty Little Dead Things, the Concrete Grove trilogy) and Simon Bestwick (The Faceless, Tide of Souls).

Thin Men With Yellow Faces begins as an everyday tale set in our less than perfect little world, but deteriorates into something altogether more bizarre and freakish. Gabrielle Holmes is a worker for the Child Protection Services who is working on a possible case of abuse of a young girl, Heather Mayhew, after a teacher at her school raises concerns. When the girl’s father refuses to allow access to Gabrielle, it only heightens her suspicions. The police are less than helpful due to a previous case where Gabrielle made mistakes and a parent was wrongly accused.

As her evening moves on, Gabrielle can’t seem to shake the feeling that something is wrong, that something is being hidden. Coincidences seem to be springing up all over the place, including the murder of the teacher who raised the alarm. Gabrielle then receives a visit from the eponymous characters, dreadful figures that are almost reminiscent of the Gentlemen in Buffy. She barely escapes with her life and decides to do everything within her power to rescue Heather, who she feels is in danger.

What begins as a luridly bad urban dream disintegrates as Gabrielle comes to realise that she may not survive the night, but her professionally maternal instincts have kicked in, pushing her forward in her quest. What she finds after she breaks into the Mayhew house is nothing like what she expected and the story here lurches nicely from the familiar to the hidden secrets that we dare not consider – even if they hold the surprising answers to the questions that no-one would want to know.

A decidedly tight, tense nightmare that will leave you wanting to know so much more, this second chapbook only cements the promise that was offered with the first book by David Moody. A short, sharp read that you’ll want to re-read again and again.

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