Staffordshire-based horror author David Moody first came to public attention with the 2001 online publication of his novel Autumn which spawned a number of sequels and his ‘Hater’ trilogy (2006-2011) clambered aboard the ‘zombie bandwagon’ by chronicling the end of world courtesy of some unnamed condition which turns people into rabid, psychopathic killers who maintain a semblance of coherence despite the bloodlust which drives them to kill and destroy indiscriminately. Moody now returns to the world of his ‘haters’ (who are, in a very real sense, gonna hate) in One of Us Will be Dead By Morning, the first of a new trilogy which tells the story of the collapse of civilisation from a different - but no less bloody - perspective.
Moody’s latest book is largely set on the remote and forbidding North Sea island of Skek where a bunch of thoroughly unlikeable and self-obsessed narcissists and egotists are participating in a corporate team building exercise at a facility owned and operated by Hazleton Adventure Experiences. The writing’s on the wall in the very first chapter when a ferry full of children on the way to the island on a school trip turns into a nightmare; one of the kids goes berserk and gruesomely slaughters everyone on board. Back on the island the group are enduring a final exercise before heading home later in the day - until disaster strikes and one of their number tumbles over a cliff edge and is killed. Did she fall or was she pushed? Things quickly go from bad to worse when the mismatched group realise that something’s not quite right and the death toll slowly but surely starts to rise…
One of Us… is a brisk page-turner, its present tense narrative imbuing it with an impressive sense of urgency and immediacy and Moody quickly ratchets up the tension as the situation on the island becomes increasingly intolerable and tempers become more and more frayed. The book is largely dialogue driven and whilst it’s often extremely naturalistic, the constant shouting, arguing and aggression amongst the characters - none of whom are especially likeable - gets a little wearing as the book progresses. Constant cries of ‘what’s that supposed to mean?’ offer plentiful opportunities for drinking games - you’ll be off your face by halfway through the book - and as more and more characters are stabbed, torn apart, mutilated and/or burnt to death you’ll probably find you don’t really care that much as none of them are really much fun to spend time with (and there are, initially, so many of them it’s hard to keep track of who’s who in Moody’s constant roll call of names as he keeps us informed of everyone’s whereabouts on the island).
But there’s no denying that One of Us… is a gripping, visceral read, glistening with gore and studded with extreme brutality and with a relentlessly downbeat tone which will please lovers of hard-edged apocalyptic fiction. We await the arrival of book two in the series with considerable interest. But less shouting next time, eh?
ONE OF US WILL BE DEAD BY MORNING / AUTHOR: DAVID MOODY / PUBLISHER: ST MARTIN’S PRESS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW