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The Touch of Hell

Novel by Michael R Linaker 1981.

In the depths of winter, a night of heavy snow is followed by a morning of sub-zero temperatures. Inevitably there is a serious pile-up on the motorway and the heavy traffic is diverted through the village of Shepthorne. Just as the roads are becoming congested, a large American military plane crashes down on to the village, causing widespread devastation. And of course the plane is carrying a bacteriological warfare sample which is highly contagious...

Lockerbie with a twist, this very short book is firmly rooted in the horror rather than the thriller genre. This doesn't, however, make it a good novel. The entire first third of the text is merely bones with no flesh: possibly the longest prologue I've ever read. And when it starts settling down to some detail, it never stays in one place for long. There's absolutely no characterisation, as no single character is focused on for more than a few paragraphs at a time because the plot is consistently event-driven much in the same way as a movie storyboard. All in all, this is a poor follow-up to the excellent Scorpion. Maybe the author realised this as well as he returned for a sequel to that book with his third and last offering, Second Generation.


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