Author: Shaun Hutson
274 pages • £17.99
Shaun Hutson is what you'd call “prolific”. The preface to Unmarked Graves lists 27 of his other books, with such gloriously descriptive titles as Slugs, Spawn and Deadhead. In fact, he’s a master of the short, snappy title, as much as he is at producing succinct horror-filled novels. Subtle? Nope, but he deserves his success, as his work is both gripping, and – unlike that of some of his contemporaries – rarely outstays its welcome. So how does his latest tome perform in the blood, guts and gore game?
The action in Unmarked Graves moves swiftly between continents, starting with the discovery of a severed head in Sierra Leone, before moving to the decaying English town of Darworth, Hertfordshire. Darworth is home to an increasing number of Africans, refugees escaping persecution at home only to find themselves the victims of assaults by chavvy low-life racists. Into this fraught situation comes Nick Pearson, war reporter and veteran of Sierra Leone. He reckons there’s something supernatural behind the violence scouring Middle England, though the local rozzers remain unconvinced by tales of magic and mysticism – until a bizarre and inexplicable turn of events…
There are times here when Hutson doesn’t create entirely convincing three-dimensional characters – as if (understandably) he hasn’t spent too much time drinking with scum down the local boozer. In spite of this, he still manages to come up with an absorbing story. It may not be one of Hutson’s best, but if you like your horror testosterone-charged and visceral, then you could do much worse than digging into Unmarked Graves. Oh, and it’s got a great ending, too.