Bradley’s (Relic of the Damned: Carpe Noctem, 2012, etc.) latest horror novel centers on scientific inquiry gone awry.
In the quaint, Mayberry-like town of Reeseport, military scientists pursue research in a classified lab. After being infected by a secret military virus that nearly kills him, soldier and research scientist Ross Clayton is implanted with an experimental pacemaker. His co-workers have implanted the same technology into the lab’s monkeys, and while Clayton recuperates, links between the virus and the pacemakers’ functionality begin to emerge. Meanwhile, an assassin with a strong resemblance to Clayton is in Reeseport and on the run. Clayton is mistaken for the hit man and killed, and the results of his medical treatment have horrifying consequences: He rises from the dead. A blood bath follows, but not a wholly convincing one; many of the characters suffer a terrible fate, and the plot’s logic falls victim as well. The story threads involving the assassin and the scientist don’t work well together. Clayton’s illness is engagingly portrayed, and the military research scenes are effective, but the assassin’s weak story undermines the narrative’s urgency. That said, the scenes with Clayton’s family have a charming naturalism, and Buzzy, the town oddball who searches for coins, bits of metal and other ephemera, is reminiscent of characters in Stephen King’s work. The final sections fall apart after Clayton’s poorly handled death, and the denouement is more bizarre than chilling.
An intriguing horror story with a disappointing finale.