Nocturnal by Scott Sigler
For centuries, their race has lived beneath the earth, emerging only at night, to feed quietly on the dregs of society and slip back into the shadows. But now their time has come – their time to rise up from their hiding places and take back what is theirs.
San Francisco homicide detective Bryan Klauser is supposed to be hunting a serial killer. But a serial killer couldn’t be responsible for the seemingly impossible DNA evidence the crime-scene techs keep finding – or for the gory, strangely prophetic dreams Bryan keeps having. And what about the connections he keeps finding to a century-old cult – and his superiors’ sudden reluctance to give him the answers he needs about cases that should be dead and buried?
Ultimately, Klauser’s investigations will reveal a race of killers who’ve long lurked beneath San Francisco’s streets – and are preparing to take back the city. Klauser is the only man who can stop them, because . . . he might not be a man at all.
It’s a constant surprise how much external forces influence the enjoyment of my reading. Nocturnal is a perfect example of this. I recently started watching The Wire (I know, I know, I’m late to the party as usual) and one of the things I love about it is the portrayal of the men and women who make up Baltimore’s police force. The initial chapters of Nocturnal feel exactly the same as watching an episode. Nocturnal’s two main characters, police detectives Bryan Klauser and Pookie Chang, share an easy camaraderie that makes every conversation they have an effortlessly realistic feel.
Differing location and ethnicities aside, Pookie Chang could be Bunk Moreland and Bryan Klauser could be Jimmy McNulty. These are two men that live for the job, they are experts at what they do. Like their televisual counterparts however, neither are particularly successfully as human beings, they’re both flawed. Pookie is overweight and doesn’t know when to keep his mouth shut while Bryan has problems with his emotions. I always appreciate when a writer takes the time and and effort to make his characters as human as possible. There is a realism that surrounds Bryan and Pookie, in fact all the characters in the novel, that really makes it easy for a reader to get caught in the narrative.
The novel is split into two books. The first, entitled People, seems initially to be a straightforward police procedural but as the plot unfolds subtle signs start appearing that things are a bit more complicated that a simple murder. In the alternate reality of Nocturnal, appearances can be deceptive and Sigler delights in throwing the reader the occasion red herring just to keep them on their toes. The second book, titled Monsters, is the point where Mr. Sigler really starts to ramp up the horrific elements of the story. I wouldn’t dream of delivering any spoilers all I’m going to say is that things get particularly icky. The backstory of the novel’s villains is revealed in all its glory and the lines are drawn for a spectacular climactic face off.
I’ve come to realize that a Scott Sigler novel just isn’t a Scott Sigler novel unless you have a handful of moments where you think to yourself ‘I can’t believe he just did that’ or ‘he’s never going to do that to that poor character is he?….yup, he has’.
I have to admit a pleased smile crossed my face when I read the final chapter of Nocturnal. Sigler has written an attention grabbing crime/horror/action thriller that doesn’t put a foot wrong and the ending hints that there are further stories to tell. Sign me up now, I am so there.
Scott Sigler is the rarest of beasts in the world of books, a self-published author who has achieved a New York Times bestseller status under his own steam. In the UK however he is published by Hodder and Nocturnal is available now.
A final note, if any further were needed, any author who can sneak a ‘Romancing the Stone’ reference into a novel needs to be celebrated and is entirely deserving of your time.