In James Herbert's Others, private investigator Nicholas Dismas is hired to track down a missing baby stolen away at birth, he finds himself immersed in a grim underworld of lies and deceit. His investigations ultimately lead him to a mysteriously located place with the seemingly innocent name of Perfect Rest, a nursing home where the elderly can live out their days in peace . . .
But appearances can be deceptive and Dismas discovers the shadowy presence of the Others lurking in the hidden rooms and passages of Perfect Rest. His own dark heart is called into question in the events that follow and, in an astonishing and spectacular finale, Dismas finally resolves the enigma of his existence and answers the disturbing questions . . . who and what are the Others?
Herbert's reputation as the king of British horror is founded on his early gore-oriented "nasties" (The Rats; The Fog; etc.). His newest novel (after '48) packs powerful shocks, but continues the recent trend in his writing toward narratives steered by the complex motivations of his characters. Narrator and private investigator Nicholas Dismas--"Dis" to his friends--is a self-described "monster," afflicted with grotesque birth defects that give him uncommon insight into human behavior. But the search for a child declared dead at birth 18 years before triggers a befuddling cascade of events that defy even his understanding: birth-record traces lead to dead ends, knowledgeable authorities can't be located and Dis finds himself haunted by visions of malformed souls that periodically materialize in his mirror. Collaborating reluctantly with Louise Broomfield, his client's psychic adviser, Dis tracks a suspicious former midwife to the Perfect Rest nursing home. There, he encounters both the repellent Leonard Wisbeech, one of the most diabolically perverse doctors in all medical horror fiction, and secret experiments that shed light on the case and on Dis's own obscure origins. Readers who stick with this tale past its lethargic start--in which Herbert labors to contrast Dis's normalcy and the "ugliness" of more physically appealing people--will find a payoff in the over-the-top climax, in which the freak show Wisbeech secretly presides over runs amok. Though punctuated with long expository passages that explain the novel's central mystery, the finale crackles, finding an admirable balance between terrors of the supernatural and the darkness of the human heart.
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Good read, well worth the 99p.
One word; rubbish