Slaughter Beach by Benedict J Jones – a review by Gary Fry
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I started reading this novella, though in hindsight I guess the title should have offered me some guidance. Slaughter Beach: yes, that’s pretty much what the book is about, and dammit, if it doesn’t perform its duties with some fuss-free finesse.
In telling the story of a bunch of characters – a photographer and his models, along with the crew they hire to take them all out to an isolated island for a photo shoot (great idea, guys!) – Jones doesn’t waste much time before getting to the meat of the action, sketching in his characters with just enough info for readers to connect with them and then knocking them down like skittles.
This is a fast n furious ride, which put me in mind of the fiction of Michael McBride. This is a huge compliment, because although I’m not usually big fan of action-driven tales, I really enjoy McBride’s narratives, mainly because they achieve a compelling grip with the savage pace of their prose.
The same goes for Jones here. The writing is crisp, rhythmic and well-paced throughout, dragging the reader through some suitably gruesome scenes and even tender moments, as its two gradually emergent lead characters inevitably hook up.
Its villain is appropriately maniacal, too, with some arch commentary amid all the carnage written in classic horror fiction italics.
All in all it’s a thoroughly professional job, and there’s really very little to fault here. There were several places through the novella where I felt the prose needed a tweak and polish, but nothing too distracting. For instance, on the first page, I thought that:
“It wasn’t so much the heat as it was the humidity, just walking across the room felt like moving through cotton wool. But Curtis had no intention of moving from the table he sat at.”
…might have read more smoothly thus:
“It wasn’t so much the heat as the humidity; just walking across the room felt like moving through cotton wool. But Curtis had no intention of moving from the table at which he sat.”
In my very humble opinion, such minor changes give the text a crisper sound, but these are not errors I’m pointing out, merely stylistic refinements, or even simply my preferences. In which case, they may not bother others at all.
Anyway, if the reader is after a solidly plotted novella which can be devoured in a single sitting and even raise the pulse rate in key places, they could do a lot worse than Slaughter Beach. I enjoyed the hell out of it. And the cover is kick-ass!
You can grab a copy of the book here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Slaughter-Beach-Dark-Minds-Novellas-ebook/dp/B0168CXEI8