The explosive debut novel from the brilliant Sean Cregan - THE LEVELS is a dark, urban gothic thriller guaranteed to appeal fans of Child, Coben, Billingham and Kernick.On the outskirts of Newport, on the US East Coast, lies an abandoned, feral housing project: the Levels. Inhabited by Newport's forgotten homeless population, the Levels are run as a personal fiefdom by the all-powerful Sorrow.As THE LEVELS opens, ex-CIA agent Nate Turner, who is in the Levels to find out who has just tried to kill him, meets a 14-year-old girl Ghost. Ghost is a Fury, one of Sorrow's trained, drug-addicted assassins looking for a way back to her normal life.Also in the Levels is Kate, a suspended cop, who has been told that she has only days to live after being attacked, and infected, by the Beast, a serial killer working the streets. The Beast is out for revenge on Kate's new employer, who he believes created the infection that's killing him, an infection that has also been released into the Levels.Now Ghost is trying to escape Sorrow, Kate is looking for the Beast and Turner is looking for answers. One thing's for sure, some people aren't going to survive the fallout...
Readers will struggle to sympathize with the less than rounded three main characters in this gritty crime thriller from Cregan, the pseudonym of John Rickards (Winter's End), though he does create a plausible picture of hell on Earth. The lowest rung of Newport City, "the fifth largest urban sprawl in the U.S.," is Keating Levels, a horrific housing project that's been virtually abandoned by the municipality's leaders and is rumored to house carriers of the bubonic plague. Former CIA agent Nathan Turner flees into the Levels after someone identified as him is killed. There, he encounters Ghost, a teenager, also seeking refuge after the disappearance of her father and brother. Meanwhile, suspended cop Kate Friedman is attacked by the Sixth Avenue Beast, a serial killer targeting bankers, and ends up joining a private effort to track him down. The unifying element to the three intersecting stories will strike many genre fans as nothing new.