Blood Born
Matthew Warner
HW Press 2011
Paperback, $16
Review by David Simms

Someone is on a rampage around Washington, D.C., raping young women at random, leaving them in a strange condition.

He leaves them pregnant, all of them, but that’s not the odd thing. The girls gestate fast – real fast. Within a couple of days, they look five months along. The doctors scramble to find out what to do, not how to cure them, but what will happen at the end of the week? The end of the obscene pregnancy?

Matt Warner steps up in Blood Born, a thriller/horror/sci-fi effort that will have readers on an adrenalin rush. At nearly 500 pages, it may seem imposing for a thriller but the story blazes. Warner’s pace kicks major ass here, reminiscent of a blend between Michael Crichton and Richard Laymon. Weird mix? Maybe, but it works. Think The Cellar and The Andromeda Strain with the speed of a pulsing train.

It begins with a teenage girl on a date gone horribly wrong, savagely attacked and bit. Her mother, Margaret Connelly, works at Calpark Fertility Clinic. Far from a pencil pusher, they keep her in the dark about what really happens in the research department, especially the enigmatic Nick. She knows something truly dark is being done behind closed doors that can’t be good for her or for anyone being treated there.

Detective Christina Randall leads a missing person’s case, which turns into a string of missing girls. Combine that with the victims which wind up in the hospital and a simple case threatens to break into an epidemic in the nation’s capital. She spends equal time battling the system and fellow cops as she does the monster who tears through the town.

Horror thrillers often lack the strong, well developed characters that a story like this one needs. Warner, who penned “Horror isn’t a 4 Letter Word” for writers and everyone who loves the genre, knows how to build a scare effectively, not simply going for the cheap thrills. True, there is gore for the diehards, and violence all over the place. This rollercoaster ride of a novel flies by (took this reviewer less than two nights to finish it – 500 pages!) and while adding science to the story, keeps it on the back burner, focusing rather on the people and the story. But above all, it’s about the people here. Det. Randall is a deep woman, attempting to build the broken bridges of her life with anyone, only to have them blown up before her eyes. She could very well become a great recurring series character.

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