There is a war being waged that humanity is blissfully unaware of. But now that war is reaching a tipping point, some people are starting to notice. It’s all going down in New York (because doesn’t everything go down there) and the NYPD is chasing its own tail trying to understand why so many bodies are dropping. But then Joshua Stone from Scotland Yard shows up and gives them an explanation. It’s weird and unbelievable, but when all other possibilities have been ruled out, whatever’s left, no matter how impossible, must be true. Find out what is really happening in Scourge by Rodney W. McWilliams.
[Note: While I am reviewing this novel independently and honestly, it should be noted that it has been provided to me by Rodney W. McWilliams for the purpose of this review. Warning: My review of Scourge contains some spoilers!]
Something stalks the city that never sleeps
People die in New York all the time, and they don’t always die peacefully. NYPD’s homicide department has seen it all. But they’ve never seen this before. Bodies are showing up ripped to pieces. Sometimes, multiple bodies a night. And the facts aren’t adding up. Some bodies seem to have been dead for far longer than is possible. And some of the bodies disappear right out of the morgue. What is going on?
Detective Angela Benson and her partner, Joe Anderson, are the ones tasked with finding answers. But the more they dig, the more questions they get. When more bodies start piling up, they conclude that a serial killer is on the loose, or more likely a gang of serial killers working together. Then a specialist from England arrives with a very different explanation: Vampires.
Joshua Stone has been tracking this group for years and he’s uncovered a very long trail. Not only has the group moved from China, through Europe, and now across the pond to New York, they’ve been operating for over 400 years. This seems like a lot to swallow, but surprisingly, the entire task force that’s been created to deal with the serial killers takes Stone at his word, and moving forward, are looking for vampires.
More than just blood in Scourge
Now, Stone doesn’t just come with news of vampires. He thinks he knows why they’re in New York. Well, sort of. He’s pretty sure that the group has been slowly moving around the world looking for something. He’s pretty sure that they’ve almost found it. And he’s certain that if they have, it’s bad for humans. The problem is that Stone doesn’t know what exactly they’re looking for, why they want it, or where it might be. But he’s trying to figure that out.
Stone is also sure that there are more than just vampires out there. He’s been tracking this group and the messes they leave behind for years. And he’s noticed that not all the messes are human. There are two distinct types of killings when the group is in town.
The first is the obvious human deaths. But the second is actually vampire deaths. Stone believes that there is a natural predator that is stalking the vampires, but he has no idea what that might be. But the closer that Angela gets to the heart of the vampire case, the more likely it is that she’ll find out. In fact, she might find out a lot more than she bargained for.
An interesting genre mash-up of crime and vampires
McWilliams mixes together the crime and vampire genres in Scourge. It starts as a run-of-the-mill crime novel. A serial killer is running loose in New York, and a rookie detective paired with an older partner has to stop them. But McWilliams quickly mixes in the fantastic with the introduction of vampires, gargoyles, and magic.
His take on the origin of vampires was a new one for me, but I thought it was innovative and refreshing. I also liked seeing gargoyles. They’re an often overlooked supernatural creature that I’ve always found rather interesting. Honestly, the most unbelievable scenario in Scourge was how everyone on the NYPD just accepted Stone’s explanation of vampires without any pushback. Someone should have been like “Sir, this is New York, we know better, you’re full of it” but they all just went “Yep, sounds good to me”. That bugged me a little.
McWilliams also over-scripted all the dialogue. Yes, I’m aware it’s a book and everything is scripted, but let me explain. Everything was just too perfect. People were overly polite (this is New York after all, not known for politeness), and everything was stated like it was an HR exercise. The perfect conversations (including any internal dialogue) weren’t bad exactly, they were just a bit boring. I kept thinking, “Real people don’t talk like this”. I know McWilliams was just trying to write a great book, but he tried a little too hard, is all.
Interesting concepts in Scourge save the day
So while the writing was a little amateurish, McWilliams still had some really interesting concepts going on in Scourge. It’s not at the top of my best-ever list, but I did end up enjoying it. Anyone who likes crime but is looking for a little more adventure should enjoy it. It’s also the first of a series based on this world, known as the Triskellion series, because, of course, evil can’t be defeated that easily. So if you do like it, there’ll be more to dive into and enjoy.
My Rating: 7/10
Scourge by Rodney W. McWilliams is available now! Let us know on social media @mycosmiccircus or in The Cosmic Circus Discord if you plan on checking out this novel.