NOTHING MEN by Doug Brunell
Paperback and eBook available on Amazon
Mark Kennington, his wife Jen and 15 year old daughter Amanda are travelling through the Trinity Alps, California on their way to a town named Ferndale where the Stephen King film Salem’s Lot was shot. Mark, a succesful writer, has been commissioned to write a piece on the town for a horror magazine, so decides to use the trip as a working vacation for his family. After driving what seems like forever, the family stop at a parking lot and ask for directions to the nearest food joint. They are directed to Valley Bottom, a quiet, secluded little town off the beaten path. With rumours afloat of U.F.O’s, Bigfoot and vampires lurking in the Trinity Alps, their decision to visit Valley Bottom will be one they’ll live to regret.
When NOTHING MEN, an independently published novel, landed in my lap, I was unsure what to expect. A blurb that hinted at the supernatural and paranormal immediately grabbed my attention and as a horror fan, I felt confident that the book would have an interesting story to tell that I hoped I would enjoy. Fortunately, I was right, but nothing could prepare me for the trip I was about to take…
Californian author Doug Brunell has managed to grip, terrify and freak me the hell out in 222 pages. That is no mean feat. This talented author has crafted an incredible story that will appeal to all horror fans out there, regardless if they are an avid or casual book reader. If I’m truthful, I’m the latter, but I know a good story when I read one and Nothing Men is definitely one of those. Totally gripped as soon as I read the first chapter, I ended up reading the entire book in a day, struggling to prise myself away. Brunnell’s style is so descriptive that I could imagine with ease every little moment, location and conversation that was being written about. In fact, I found that the novel actually played out much like a film would – expertly put together and crafted to create a fluid narrative that doesn’t confuse one tiny bit.
Doug Brunell spends a lot of time with his characters in Nothing Men, but that doesn’t mean the story is slow moving. Far from it. There always seems to be something going on, but everything happens as you could imagine it would if playing out in real life. The reader is never rushed through anything, with even the intense scenes given the right pacing to emphasise panic and ensuing action. The characters themselves though are the main draw of the book, especially with what they say, do and experience. I went into this book expecting one thing and came out with something else. That something else, however, was utterly compelling, as well as shocking, but so fulfilling that after the last page, I placed the book down, sat back in the chair and grinned like a maniac.
Somehow, the author has managed to neatly fit together a story with a perfect ending into what I would have initially thought pre-reading was too few pages. Don’t let the book length deceive, as Nothing Men is packaged just right, without the need to trim or add anything extra. The novel’s contents are current with references to pop culture such as musicians AC/DC and Metallica among others. For the entire length of the book, I felt that the story was believable in every way, from the characters and the way in which they behaved to the dialogue.
Whilst a couple plot threads might be guessed early on, the way in which they are executed are detailed and tightly described which makes for a totally entertaining read. I can’t recommend the book enough for genre fans and heartily suggest readers go into this book blind, hence the reason I’ve brushed only the surface regarding the plot. What I will say is that horror fans will appreciate the grisly action that is far from gratuitous but is perfectly justified when it is used. However, it isn’t the bloody scenes that will have you disturbed.
A captivatingly creepy read, Nothing Men is one hell of a trip.