Publisher: Angry Robot
Page count: 332pp (including an extra short story)
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin
An impressive horror detective noir, in the tradition of Mike Carey’s Felix Castor & Charlie Huston’s Joe Pitt novels, Pretty Little Dead Things is the shocking story of Thomas Usher – an usher for the dead.
Following the death of his wife and daughter in a car crash, Usher slowly recovers from his physical and emotional scars as he battles with his grief and the surfacing of a new talent. Like a mature drunk and tortured Haley Joel Osment, Thomas Usher, psychic sleuth can see dead people. Dealing with his emerging talent as well as his grief takes its toll and Usher tries to turn away from the dead but the dead are persistent. And he can only ignore them so much.
Fate eventually lends a hand when on a casual job for local ‘Business Man’ Baz Singh, Usher is unwittingly drawn into an investigation after finding the body of Baz’s daughter Kareena hanging around (ahem). And Baz is not the only connection. Usher receives a call from old flame Ellen; the GP and old friend who facilitated his long recovery following the crash. A young girl has disappeared and Ellen needs his help.
Gritty, poignant and gruesome, McMahon delivers a stunning horror noir that blends gallows humour, terror and old school detective fun. The characters are flawed and believable, the violence and imagery on the right side of nauseous and the writing is sublime. The reader can feel Usher’s grief and conflict without effort such is the extent to which the pain is painted clearly on the page.
Mahon is a writer to be watched and a force in British horror to be reckoned with. In a world where the dead dance to their own beat McMahon rules.
Take a look at McMahon’s website Gary McMahon.com.