Book Review: ONE OF US WILL BE DEAD BY MORNING

So here’s the thing about being a Hater: it’s not that you want to kill…you have to.  David Moody introduced the concept in his first fiction trilogy, when a sizable portion of the U.K. population turned into Haters--not zombies, not infected, just ordinary human beings with ‘no mercy, no second chances. Just hate.’  They simply have to kill…usually in the most brutal way possible.

After taking a break with his Autumn series, Moody returns to Hater lore with One of Us Will Be Dead by Morning (December 5; St. Martins), a sort of bone-snapping kissing cousin of his original Hater trilogy.  Hazelton Adventure Experiences is running an adventure camp on an isolated island called Skek for a dozen or so corporate executives.  Located somewhere between the U.K. and Denmark, Skek consists of a few square miles of mostly barren rock.  Somehow a primo destination for corporate retreats and teen school trips, the cheesy training exercises on Skek take a bad turn when one of the female execs takes a header off a cliff and dies. Get ready for a ripe lawsuit, Hazelton Adventure Experiences.

There’s obvious panic, there are questions, and Moody introduces so many characters, so fast, it’s hard to tell who is who, and what is what.  Maybe that was his intention, but with so few character traits assigned, it reads like a handful of random names chucked at the reader on every other page.  A ship is due to arrive to cart the corporate suits (and the dead cliff lady) off the island, but then the ship is found wrecked off shore, crammed with the bodies of a bunch of broken, neck-chomped kids, as well as a handful of dead adults.  Based on the wounds, they surmise it might be a kid who offed everybody.  Which you know, is weird.  But then after characters discuss trouble on the mainland and limited communications, any fan of Moody’s previous trilogy suddenly makes that glorious mental click: we are back in his Hater universe, and these blubbering corporate stooges might have a Hater kid on their hands.  On a barren rock of an island.  With no means of escape.  And things start getting interesting.

As the characters drop off one-by-one, many questioning who exactly is the murderer, the book takes on a modern-day Agatha Christie vibe.  It’s a cool move on Moody’s part.  As I’ve written in previous reviews, Moody truly excels at wicked pacing and sharp dialogue, and One of Us Will Be Dead by Morning is no exception.  Sure, the characters sort of blur together, especially at the beginning, but there are times you want a slow, gentle gothic novel on a warm summer day, and then some days you want to rip and roar through a good, fast read. That’s David Moody for you.

Ryan Daley