Book Review: “Nobody True” by James Herbert
I first discovered horror in my teens, and my two heroes of the genre were Stephen King and James Herbert.
I’ve not read much horror recently – my literary tastes have been leaning more towards crime and urban fantasy of late. But discovering “Nobody True” was like revisiting an old friend I’ve not seen in ages, and then discovering you fall into conversation so easily you might have seen each other only yesterday. Though I noted with interest that Herbert isn’t plugged as a ‘horror’ writer these days. No. He’s a ‘chiller’ writer, apparently. I guess ‘horror’ is still considered an unfashionable term.
I was drawn to this book by its intriguing premise. The main character, James True, is a man who can astrally project. One night after his spiritual self has been off having adventures, he returns to his body to discover it’s nothing but a bloody pulp. He’s been murdered, while his spirit has been absent. But who killed him? This is what James sets to discover. Was it the serial killer who’s been leaving mutilated corpses all over London? Was it True’s business partner, with whom he’d had a argument on the night he died?
James True is an engaging character, talking to the reader like a close friend. As he tells you all about his background – his clinging and paranoid mother; his near-death experience on a motorcycle as a student, which led to an early out of body experience; his art college course which led to a career in advertising – the character becomes a three dimensional being. I also wondered how much of this character is based on James Herbert himself – indeed, they share the same first name; Herbert used to be an art director at an advertising agency before becoming a full time writer; both author and character are London-based and grew up in Catholic families.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, which kept me gripped right from the cliff-hanging beginning to the poignant, somewhat philosophical ending.
It’s given me a taste for more horror, and reminded me what a damn good writer James Herbert is. He’s one of the special guests at the World Horror Convention in Brighton next month. Maybe I’ll get to tell him that in person…