Stuart Brogan

CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform / 356 pages / 1 edition (7 Jan. 2017)

ISBN: 1541156978

On the Lisa Rating Scale, I do not give NC-17 for sex, unless the intention is to harm someone. Salty talk is fine; hate speech is not. Blood and death are a part of life, but being slaughtered by gangs of sociopaths whose only joy is mass murder in as gruesome a method as possible should not be. For that kind of violence, JACKALS earns the NC-17 rating. You have been warned.

Pity the good folk of Wells Station, because they are about to become the “prey” of a group of these merciless Jackals. Does it makes it worse that the questions “who” and “why” will never be answered? Perhaps looking into the face of someone who used to say I love you and seeing only rage as they pull that trigger or raise that pipe again for the blow that will end a life is more agonising than death at the hands of a stranger. End your life at the hands of this mobile abattoir and any other method seems preferable.

Should you ask Jesse and Damien Reed, they would be able to tell you exactly how it feels to attract the attention of Jackals. On one particular evening, they were the very definition of right place/wrong time and learned that minding your own business can’t keep you safe in this world. When they stumble upon a massacre in the police station and she escapes, Jesse becomes the only suspect. And sometimes, all that’s left is to run.

The task of investigating the bloodbath and an arcane symbol painted on the wall of the station in blood falls to Lewis Class, a Detective Inspector whose career has never been dazzling, to put it bluntly. It is up to him to bring Jesse in, but he soon finds that she is a victim, not a bloodthirsty murderer. Together, they must go on the run from an endless line of Jackals that will never quit until the two of them experience gruesome, prolonged deaths.

Obviously, they can count on the DI’s fellow officers and superiors to throw their full resources into assisting them to track down these monstrous gangs. Except… Oh, right. There is a massive conspiracy determined to change the nature of mankind. As the membership of that secret society keeps reaching higher and higher into the world of the rich and powerful and flexing its muscles to reveal members wherever they turn, Jesse and Class learn they can trust no one. And there is nowhere to hide.

The plot of JACKALS is gripping, once you gird your loins for the unbelievable carnage. There are problems that kick an editor like me out of the narrative over and over and make me wish Brogan had come to someone at least as good as me for the final read, if not for the full edit. A famous author stressed not to keep looking for verbs when “said” is sufficient. The two main characters in the novel “retorted” and “quipped” so many times I wanted to butcher them. If the dialogue is worded just right it will be obvious it is a jibe or dry humour and there is no need for the extra explanation. Often, there is no need to identify the speaker. Oops! Instructing.

Future editions of Jackals will no doubt have these goofs repaired, but for now slip on a kill floor of a horror novel that will grab your attention and keep you reading late into the night. And all this from an author who knows a little something about secret societies, barbarism, heroes, and villains and how history may have gotten the details completely reversed in HEATHEN WARRIOR: AN EXPLORATION INTO THE WARRIOR ETHOS WITHIN THE NORTHERN TRADITION and HEROES OF PAGAN BRITAIN.