First published back in July of 2004, British horror author Shaun Hutson’s novel ‘Necessary Evil’ followed on from his recent gritty-thriller offerings with an intense thriller/horror crossover that packed in a veritable avalanche of action and violence.

DLS Synopsis:
Back in 1990, in the dusty deserted village of Al Hajof in Eastern Iraq, something more beast than man was stalking its prey.  The prey – men who knew that death was close, tried to run, hide, and flee the area.  But there was no escape.  And once the carnage was over, Doctor Kalid Sharafi would declare the test a success.  Saddam Hussein, who stood flanked by his Republican Guard amongst the aftermath of the slaughter, knew that what he had was a weapon of pure unadulterated power.  One he could finally crush his enemies with.

Years later, in London, thirty-year-old Matthew Franklin and his small criminal gang were planning their next big job.  It had taken more than two months to get planned and prepared.  But together with ex-serviceman of the Royal Greenjackets Jeff Anderson, thirty-one-year-old Steven Cutler, thirty-year-old George Nicholson and thirty-six-year-old Joe ‘Two Dogs’ Maguire, the gang were ready to pull off an armed robbery on a Securicor Van in broad daylight.

Equipped with fifteen pounds of Semtex and armed to the teeth with stolen military automatic machineguns, the gang of five were going to hit the armoured van hard and fast.  However, as soon as the robbery got underway, everything went to pot.  After eventually grinding the van to a halt, Franklin and his gang were expecting to overhear the inevitable distress call on their two-way radio.  However, no call came.  Instead, the Securicor van had tried desperately to evade the robbers and finally crashed as a result of the reckless attempt to get away.

But it’s not until Franklin and his gang have blown open the van’s cargo area that the really weird shit hits the fan.  Instead of hard cash, the gang found themselves confronted by thirty-four headless and handless corpses, all tightly packed together in the back.

The next thing they know is that they’re being shot at by an unseen assailant, with both Nicholson and Maguire going down and Adamson badly wounded by the unknown gunman.  Desperately fleeing the scene, Franklin realises that the whole job must have been a setup.  The shooters were clearly waiting for them.  But how and who had orchestrated it all?

Franklin makes a call to his pregnant girlfriend, twenty-eight-year-old Amy Holden, telling her to check in to a hotel with Cutler’s girlfriend, Susan Harris.  Trust between the robbers is breaking down, and Franklin knows that he needs to get to the bottom of the possible deception before anyone else is taken out.  And then Steve Cutler and the two girls are killed.  Matt Franklin has no idea what is going on.  All he knows is that someone’s after them, and all of a sudden he’s the only one left.

Meanwhile, Detective Inspector Vincent Crane and Detective Sergeant Derek Kingston are trying to get to the bottom of the messed-up robbery.  But it’s not until Detective Constable Michael Weaver offers to help Franklin get those responsible for murdering his gang mates and his girlfriend, that any progress is made.

Franklin is now on a mission of revenge.  But those responsible for the recent hits are from somewhere he never would have expected.  And there are men who plan to reach paradise with the blood of thousands of infidels on their hands.

The war is on.  And on the streets of London, only the toughest will survive the terror that is being unleashed...

DLS Review:
Following on from his recent spat with intense thrillers, Hutson returns with a horror-cum-thriller crossover-novel that bridges the gap between his recent energy-rich thriller novels and a return to his roots in gore-drenched horror.  Indeed, the novel that would follow on from this one, ‘Twisted Souls’ (2005) moved further again into the turf of horror; although it’s psychological and supernatural plot kept it away from entering the author’s true houmground of blood drenched splatterpunk.

Putting the repeated jumping back to 1990 to one side, the first half or so of the novel reads very much like a typical Sean Doyle storyline – or indeed any of the other similarly themed gritty thriller that Hutson has produced over the years since ‘Deadhead’ (1993).

And let’s be honest, Hutson can write an explosive and carnage-hungry yarn, with plenty of action, suspense and entertainment-value crammed in to each short chapter.  Outside of the all-out-gore splatterpunk that defined his early career, Hutson’s talent at packing in the high-adrenaline action is one particular aspect that he can so very very well.

And action-rich this absolute monster of a novel is.  From the moment the unidentifiable corpses are discovered in the back of the armoured van, the threat-level is ramped-up a good thousand notches.  Suddenly characters are dropping like flies.  No exaggeration - barely a chapter goes by without another one being shot and killed.  And all through this, Hutson maintains the exciting mystery of who the hell is behind the hits and why.

Once our principal protagonist, the surprising anti-hero Matt Franklin, is on his own – Hutson is ready to embark upon the main thrust of the entire tale – Franklin’s hell-bent desire for vengeance.  Okay, so having the police join forces with him is a bit too far-fetched, even for a Hutson novel.  But let’s just have some willing suspension of disbelief (an absolute necessity for pretty much all of Hutson’s novels) and just enjoy the fast-paced entertainment being shovelled our way.

Hutson touches upon a few predominant topics from the time it was written; such as with the terrorist involvement and most notably the inclusion of Saddam Hussein in the mix.  Indeed, the tale had been published shortly after Saddam Hussein’s capture in December of 2003 – making the inclusion of Hussein a particularly prominent point of the time.

It has to be said that ‘Necessary Evil’ is most definitely a return to form for the author.  The sheer energy and intense action behind the plot just keeps the storyline powering along at a mile a minute.  As such, you certainly get your money’s worth as far as entertainment value is concerned.

With the insane action-madness spiralling towards one final eruption to send the novel off with, Hutson lays down a tension-rich trail leading to the over-the-top finale, in the horror-friendly darkness from within the tunnels of the London underground.  Possibly the absolute highlight of the entire tale, these particular chapters once again illustrate how well Hutson can slam down horror for sheer entertainments sake.

One particular point that is often brought up when the novel is being mentioned is the laughably unrealistic issue surrounding the exploding CO2 canister in the last few chapters.  Okay, we know Hutson’s novels aren’t exactly the most realistic of stories, and that they’re often laced with over-the-top nonsense – so I’m somewhat bemused by the general reaction to this somewhat minor faux pas.  Yeah, it’s not realistic.  In fact – it’s just wrong.  But who gives a flying monkey’s?  Stop taking Hutson’s novels so seriously and just enjoy what quite frankly is a hell of a wild ride.  It’s what it’s designed for!

The novel runs for a total of 468 pages.

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