Titan, out now
Ex-con Alex Locke agrees to carry out one last job to raise funds to help his daughter out of trouble – but when a burglary goes horribly wrong, he finds his life taking a very unexpected path…
Mark Morris’ new novel – the first in a trilogy – is a masterful mix of urban fantasy, crime, horror and science fiction; we learn the rules, such as they are, as we go along, thanks to the first person narration by Alex, and share his bewilderment as what seems to be a simple job becomes anything but. By the end of the novel, Morris has thrown a considerable number of ideas at us concerning the situation he’s devised, but it’s clear that he’s very much in control of his story – as with Scott Andrews’ recent Timebomb, elements come into play from later in the trilogy that have had to be thought through carefully.
The central characters are well drawn: we empathise with Alex’s desire to help both his daughters, and to do whatever is necessary, and share his suspicions of nightclub owner Clover Munroe and underworld boss Benny Magee. Alex’s ex Lyn, confined to an institution, is a key figure whose role in events is suitably ambiguous; his new ally, Frank, similarly has considerable mystery attached.
Morris draws the reader in skilfully, keeping the fantasy elements to a minimum initially, but once they arrive, they’re full on – there are gory deaths and creatures who you don’t want to think about too much in case they give you nightmares. The titular Wolves of London are certainly not what you – or indeed most of the characters – expect them to be!
It’s a fast-paced novel, with surprises and revelations in nearly every chapter, and although the situation is often bleak, there are moments of humour (and the odd Easter egg for fans of the shows Morris enjoys – check out Alex’s address at the end of the book and its proximity to a certain pathologist). You’ll devour it quickly, and want to know when the sequel, The Society of Blood, is coming out! (Next year apparently.)
Verdict: A gripping and fantastic tale that leaves you wanting the next book now! Highly recommended. 9/10