Grim_Noir Gets INFECTED With a Bad Case of the “Sigler-verse”

Infected Podcast-Novel cover

Title: Infected

Writer/Producer/Narrator/Aural Artist: Scott Sigler

Reviewed by Grim_Noir

So, are you looking for something scary this Halloween? ‘Cause if you are, then I should warn you, you’re gonna see all sorts of things after reading Infected: It won’t be quiet, it won’t be work-safe, and it won’t calm your nerves (DEFINITELY don’t read the chapter titled “The Chicken Scissors” after a full meal). But I’ll tell you what it will be: Fun; fun as…Hell.

Writer Scott Sigler has taken the facts from The Hot Zone and combined them with the Cthulhu mythos to create the stuff of which nightmares are made. A new, mysterious disease appears to be sweeping across the country. It is a virus which starts as a simple rash, but slowly induces paranoid delusions, fits of anger and grotesque homicidal impulses in its victims.

The novel primarily follows three people: CDC epidemiologist Margaret Montoya, who first noticed the problem and managed to bring it to the President’s attention. She has been given a very small staff and unlimited resources to find a cure for this disease

Then, there is about-to-be-put-out-to-pasture CIA operative Dew Phillips, who has been charged (by executive order) with simultaneously keeping a press blackout on the situation AND finding a living victim. Cornered hosts of this parasitic organism tend to kill themselves. Even more disturbing, the bodies of dead hosts gradually “dissolve” into a puddle of grayish goo within 48 hours.


“…In that kitchen, a corpse. A woman. Pool of blood. Wide-eyed. Throat slit. A brow-wrinkled expression of surprise, not terror…surprise, or confusion, like she’d passed on while looking at a Wheel of Fortune puzzle that really had her stumped…”
(from Infected by Scott Sigler)

 

Finally, we jump back and forth to Infected victim, Perry Dawsey. “Scary” Perry Dawsey is a former All-Star college defensive linesman, who’s football career was cut tragically short by a severe knee injury. Even before the disease, Dawsey had anger management issues from his childhood with an abusive father. While home sick from work, he is quickly discovering what Dr. Montoya and Agent Phillips only suspect: This virus is sentient and has a terrifying agenda for humanity…

Bodies pile up, Montoya and Phillips always arrive with Dr. Loomis-like timing, and Perry slowly goes mad with a very Poe-meets-King zeal.

Sigler moves the action along briskly, yet is able to stretch tension to an almost maddening breaking point. His gleeful near-obsession with body mutilation and dismemberment will make even the most harden horror reader squirm. Yet, at the same time, he is fetishistic that all of his spy tech and medical hardware be as accurate as possible in their “day-after-tomorrow” stylings. Basically, imagine if Clive Barker decided to write a fusion between Outbreak, The Crazies and Invasion of the Body Snatchers, for which Sam Raimi then generated a screenplay that was directed by David Cronenberg. Oh, and Tom Clancy and Michael Creighton were technical advisors. Sounds batty? Maybe, but Sigler never loses a single breathless story thread in this mix.

Some may find Mr. Sigler’s prose a little purple, but his storytelling is solid (albeit a bit brand-name obsessed) and his cliffhangers feel genuine. A word of warning about the audiobook, however, while Sigler can WRITE in the voices of men, women, child, Southerns, Native Americans, African-Americans and various Hindis, he cannot VOCALIZE accents to save his life. His producers do a million obvious audio tricks to remedy this, but it is still the same glaring flaw that all D.I.Y. podiobooks suffer from. Fortunately, within a couple of chapters, the story will sweep you along and Sigler’s less than stellar acting chops will fade into the background.

Sigler has been writing and publishing free or inexpensive horror fiction for almost ten years now. He has become a polished expert at spooking the bejeezuz out of people, but his earlier works have a rawness to them which cannot be matched and deserve to be revisited. No matter what scary movies, TV shows and other horror novels have come out this Halloween season, the bravest thing you can do is go back and (re-)read or listen to the first book in Sigler’s Infected trilogy. In 2014’s world of Enterovirus 68, flesh-eating bacteria and the Ebola epidemic, the creepiness of this novel is downright prescient.

Happy Halloween!

Contagious Podcast-Novel cover

 

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* The “voices” tell GRIM_NOIR that the internet a figment of his imagination…and that all work and no play makes Grim a dull boy… Please comment below and/or follow @Grim_Noir on Twitter or “Friend” on Facebook or Good Reads to end his self-delusions.

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