Review 3 of L.H. Maynard's and M.P.N. Sims's Black Cathedral
In case you haven't heard of buzzword bingo - here are the rules. The players enter a business meeting with a card with a number of buzzwords written on it. Then these words and phrases are crossed out as they as spoken in the meeting (but not by the person whose card features the word). The first person to complete their card wins.
With this book you could almost play X-Files Buzzword Bingo -
Secret Government Organisation - check!
Psychic Powers - got that one too!
Ley lines - and that!
Big Brother Style Corporations - on a roll now!
Mysterious deaths on a deserted island and a satanic cult - you better call the scorer over now. I think I have a winning card.
But what prize might it have won me? Well you would be forgiven for thinking a book combining all of these different plot elements (and I haven't named them all by any means) would be confusing at best - downright unreadable at worst.
Well, it actually isn't that bad. Despite the myriad overused plot hooks, the stereotypical characters (can you think of a maverick lead investigator at odds with his boss?) Maynard and Sims have actually produced something entertaining.
Essentially the story is this. A team building exercise on a remote Scottish island goes wrong - badly wrong. All the group members suffer gruesome deaths, and their bodies are never found. Nor for that matter is the rescue helicopter.
Their employer - a large US based multinational that feels equal parts Orwell and Occult - wants to know what happened and has tasked Department 18 (a secret British government body who investigate the paranormal) with uncovering the truth. And they have one condition - the expedition must include Robert Carter - even though he's just been fired after years of insubordination.
And so off the group go to their date with destiny (or at least the plot climax). Not everyone is going to survive (that's a given in horror novels) and there's the inevitable twist as the action starts to gear up. This book really is that formulaic in many, many ways.
But for its faults there is a lot to recommend this. For one Department 18 is interesting. It takes the X-Files vibe further. Its investigators are all psychic in one way or another. They have great toys - these guys are like a room full of spooky James Bonds - possibly without the martial arts skills though.
This is intended to be the first book in a series. Considering the amount they've crammed in here - this gives me visions of D18's next case featuring a lost tribe of half-alien, ghostly werewolves and their war with vampiric sorcerers who have taken control of the internet in a fiendish plan to hypnotise the whole world into following their diabolic ways. Whatever the authors pick for the second book I definitely want to read it.
Page Count: 287
Release: January 2009
Publisher: Leisure Books (Dorchester Publishing)