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Fluke

Novel by James Herbert (England) 1977.

Of all his many novels, this is Herbert's own favourite (he obviously has a lot of fondness for dogs as against cats or other animals), and not just because it was also something of a victory for him: he had to hold out for his version of the book after the publishers, New English Library, wanted far more gore and violence along the lines of his previous three offerings. Luckily he got his way, as he has produced a startlingly "different kind of novel" (as it says on the front cover). It doesn't really count as horror, but as the author rarely leaves the genre that brought him so much success, it is worthy of a mention here.

We follow a newly born dog who takes very little time to realise that he's somewhat different. How different he gradually comes to find out: he has the body and instincts of a dog, but the memories of a man. Unfortunately they are only returning to him piece by piece, and he cannot communicate with other humans. As these memories become more defined, he realises that as a human being he was murdered, and Fluke sets out to seek his own killer.

A more personal revenge story than The Survivor, Herbert shows that he can handle humour (a classic conversation between Fluke and a myopic frog), irony (the wonderful twist at the end of the story) and irreverence (a neat reversal of his first book, The Rats, with the dogs emerging victorious over a huge intelligent rat), as well as continuing his mastery of more traditional horror devices. Interesting and different.


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