Tuesday, April 17, 2007


Title:The Intruders
Author: Michael Marshall
Publisher: Harper Collins

Jack Whalen is an ex-cop, moved from LA to a remote village in the Seattle area with his wife Amy. He published a book called "The Intruders", and is struggling with his follow up. A blast from the past comes in the form of someone from school, Gary Fisher, who was one of the cool kids, grown up to become a lawyer. Fisher is involved in the wrangling over a will, which seems to have become tied up in the murder of a family, and he wants Jack's input on the matter. Jack shows him the door, goes back to staring into space.

Jack gets a phone call; someone has found his wife's mobile phone. He arranges for it to be taken to the hotel she is staying in on business, and phones the hotel to let her know its coming. She isn't there. Nor is she in the hotel nearby with a similar kind of name. He drives into Seattle, picks up the phone, heads round to her office, but as far as they are concerned she isn't in Seattle. So where is she? He looks through the phone - strange pictures, strange messages, strange pieces of music - what is going on? Fisher comes back - "oh, did I mention, your wife is involved in this?"

At every stage, Jack is only interested in his wife, but he is drawn in anyway. A missing man who was investigating something to do with ultra-sound. Murder and conspiracy, references to reincarnation, ghosts, an organisation using the number 9 as a symbol. There is a man called Shepherd who seems to leave mayhem in his wake. And through it all a 9-year-old girl has gone missing, presumed abducted, but it’s much worse than that.

The Intruders is the fourth novel by Michael Marshall, following on from the trilogy The Straw Men, The Lonely Dead and Blood Of Angels. The Intruders is very much in the same kind of ball park - ex-cop, missing children, shadowy groups, the enforcers of the shadowy groups, the people who got to close to finding out about the groups, and the ghosts of the first Europeans to arrive in America. Once again, The Intruders has parallels with Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso's 100 Bullets. This time we may not have the Croatoa reference, but we have the Shepherd reference, the manager of sheep, the agent of the secret families.

Prior to these novels Michael wrote as Michael Marshall Smith, writing a kind of hybrid science fiction/horror. As Michael Marshall his novels have been more crime/conspiracy, with enough of a hint of the other to creep towards that hybrid territory again. With The Intruders he ups the element of other, so that there is a more pronounced element of horror weaving its way through the work. The ending has enough opening for there to be a sequel, but is done in such a way that it seems a little unlikely. Regardless, the next work to be published is the first novel by Michael Marshall Smith in 9-years, a limited edition titled The Servants.

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