Michael Marshall – The Lonely Dead

Michael Marshall (Smith) has written some of the most mind-bendingly good science fiction/detective/horror crossover fiction of recent years. Check out his debut novel Only Forward and the excellent collection What You Make It for some superb writing. His last book, The Straw Men was a mainstream thriller with a terrifying psycho killer on the loose and a wide-ranging conspiracy as its backdrop. The Lonely Dead picks up where The Straw Men left off, and for a while it carries on the tone of borderline paranoia. The narrative jumps around between several characters, and the storylines seem promisingly incompatible. How is he going to link them together? What more are we going to find out about the shadowy Straw Men?

And then, about three quarters of the way through, as the threads come together, the whole thing balloons out of control. Edgy horror goes out the window, and we’re into dodgy X-Files knock-off territory. To top it off, we get a happy ending, too. A happy ending? In an MMS novel? Whatever is the world coming to?