The Levels by Sean Cregan

Published by Headline.

I’ve been waiting for another exciting young crime writer to come along – someone who fits nicely into the same stable as other favourites of the same generation such as Stuart Macbride, Michael Marshall Smith, John Rickards and Steve Mosby – and Sean Cregan fits the bill very nicely thank you.

He fits very very well in fact and it’s not a well-kept secret that Cregan is in fact the new name for ‘the artist formerly known as’ John Rickards.

I loved John’s previous series of four books which kicked off with Winters’ End, but this change of style, name and publisher has certainly been worth the wait.

The Levels is a towering urban housing estate – a failed project and the stuff of real modern nightmares, but he manages to throw plenty of additional horrors into this not-too-distant future nightmare where the drug-addled residents run from each other, from the authorities and from a vicious serial killer who is also rampaging through the shadows.

The Levels read to me like a grimy, and likely much more realistic glimpse of a terrifying future than say, Blade Runner, the characters here have little in terms of technology or hover cars to escape their fates and I could do no better than the inner sleeve notes to describe it as ‘dark, feral, lawless’ – it is all of those and much more besides.

The characters, as with Sean’s (John’s) previous books, are well envisaged on the page and made me want to know more, to read more about their stories, particularly Ghost, one of the assassins known as ‘Furies’ in the novel, so it’s great to hear that at least two more books are planned for this new series – the next likely to be entitled The Razor Gate and due to be unleashed in January 2010.

A welcome breath of fresh air and a new take on what makes a ‘crime’ fiction book.


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