Release Date: 05/08/10
An explosive debut novel - THE LEVELS is a dark, urban gothic thriller guaranteed to appeal fans of Child and Kernick. On the outskirts of Newport, on the US East Coast, lies an abandoned housing project: the Levels. Inhabited by Newport's homeless population, the Levels are run by the all-powerful Sorrow. As THE LEVELS opens, ex-CIA agent Nate Turner, who is in the Levels to find out who has just tried to kill him, meets a 14-year-old girl Ghost. Ghost is a Fury, one of Sorrow's trained, teenage assassins looking for a way back to her normal life. Also in the Levels is Kate, a suspended cop, who has been told that she has only days to live after being attacked, and infected, by the Beast, a serial killer working the streets. The Beast is out for revenge on Kate's new employer, who he believes created the infection that's killing him, an infection that has also been released into the Levels. Now Ghost is trying to escape Sorrow, Kate is looking for the Beast and Turner is looking for answers. One thing's for sure, some people aren't going to survive the fallout...
What is truly gripping about this title is the blurb, it feels that it has everything a fan of thrillers would desire. You’ve three great lead characters, you’ve got an underground area where the poor and mad congregate and above all else you’ve got a serial killer lurking in the background that each of the “heroes” has to seek for their own goals.
On paper this seems ideal but to be honest, the tale fell far short of the potential and turned what could have been a five star title to a pretty standard three. The characters felt like standard stereotypical cardboard cut outs, they had no real depth and to make matters worse no real hooks to keep the reader routing for them. Whilst this was a major downside for me, the redeeming feature was the tales pace as the author fully understood about building crescendo’s and adding moments for the reader to catch their breath. Add to the mix a high body count alongside an overall arc that was acceptable but without characters to care for, its always leads to a tale that the reader can pretty much switch off from when you want to hope that each survives their next encounter. A great shame.