An engaging sequel that melds post-apocalyptic–style science fiction with a serial-killer thriller.
O’Neal, who has a real-life background in law enforcement (and who has written several crime novels under the name James O. Born, including 2008’s Burn Zone), revisits the violent, war-ravaged world of his novel The Human Disguise (2009). His latest is a variation on the serial-killer police procedural. Tom Wilner, a Unified Police Force detective from just outside the deadly Miami Quarantine Zone, is on the trail of a killer who murders people with a single puncture wound to the neck—an M.O. that’s earned the killer the nickname “The Vampire.” As Wilner and his partner, Steve Besslia, investigate, they find that the killer’s been at it for some 50 years, and is stronger and faster than a normal person—and Wilner realizes that the killer may not even be human at all. O’Neal stages his tense action scenes with style and verve, and the sections that delve into the killer’s mind are also chilling and effective. The author’s world-building is also consistently well-thought-out, and he uses his setting’s grim atmosphere to create a truly gritty and disconcertingly lawless society.
Once again, a worthwhile amalgam of the science-fiction and mystery genres.