With No Hero, Jonathan Wood takes a hefty dose of Lovecraft’s fears from beyond motif, throws in a good amount of British humor, and adds a heaping measure of weird to make an enjoyable, fascinating, and energetic romp through Oxford, England, UK. No Hero starts with its lead character, Arthur Wallace, as a homicide detective working to solve a half dozen murders of prominent citizens who were found with the top of their skulls cut off. He and his partner, Alison Swann, arrive at the last scene in time to see the culprit, a strange redhead who has a wicked way with a Japanese katana sword as she kills her next victim. Things get even odder when a weird parasite erupts from the man’s skull along with white eggs that disintegrate in the air. Before Wallace can get out of striking distance, she stabs him, and he ends up in the hospital with a hole in his chest.
Wallace wakes up to be recruited to join MI37, a secret British agency tasked with intercepting and neutralizing alien threats, by the agency’s director Felicity Shaw. It turns out the brain parasite is part of a group of extra-terrestrials called the Progeny who infect humans and have the goal of taking over the world. Wallace has always entertained daydreams of being an action hero like Kurt Russell, and this is his chance. He teams with three other eccentric agents, including an overly tattooed female research expert with a bad attitude, an erudite academic with special implants that allow him to channel electricity and work spells, and the borderline psychopathic woman with the sword and seemingly inhuman strength and speed, in their mission to stop the Progeny. Will Wallace find his inner action hero and save the world? It’s well worth reading to find out.
No Hero is a bit hard to follow at times, but the concept was so interesting and the action so great that I was encouraged to keep reading, despite feeling clueless in some parts about what was going on. Some readers will find this novel a bit oblique, but others with a taste for things “off the beaten path” will find it refreshing. I fall in the latter category. I loved the humor, the intriguing cast of characters, and the novel story elements. It’s true that Wood used some of the cosmic horror motifs pioneered in the classic writer HP Lovecraft’s stories; however, he takes things in a different and distinct direction. The weird aspects are both disturbing and captivating, delivered in a manner that adds to the appeal of this novel and keeps you motivated to keep reading. And the quirky humor makes the sometimes quite dark elements go over a lot easier. I was pleasantly surprised with this first published novel by Jonathan Wood, and will definitely read more adventures of MI37.
- Paperback: 264 pages
- Publisher: Night Shade Books (June 21, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1597802824
- ISBN-13: 978-1597802826
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