Saturday, March 21, 2015

Book Review: Nocturnal by Scott Sigler


There are some odd murders going on in San Francisco. Bodies are being urinated on, and strange symbols are painted nearby, often in the victims' blood. Bryan Clauson and his partner Pookie Chang should be the ones on these cases, but the chief of police is insisting on pulling them off the case. Now, more determined than ever to follow up, Pookie and Bryan find themselves on a strange case that goes back decades.

Elsewhere in town, Rex Deprovdechuck, a 13-year-old bullying victim, is finding himself hitting a new stage in his life. This goes beyond puberty. He's dreaming of the people that hurt him. In his dreams, these people die. And in these dreams, though he doesn't know it, is Bryan Clauson.

That's my summary. Here's the one I pulled from
Homicide detective Bryan Clauser is losing his mind. How else to explain the dreams he keeps having—dreams that mirror, with impossible accuracy, the gruesome serial murders taking place all over San Francisco? How else to explain the feelings these dreams provoke in him—not disgust, not horror, but excitement.
As Bryan and his longtime partner, Lawrence “Pookie” Chang, investigate the murders, they learn that things are even stranger than they at first seem. For the victims are all enemies of a seemingly ordinary young boy—a boy who is gripped by the same dreams that haunt Bryan. Meanwhile, a shadowy vigilante, seemingly armed with superhuman powers, is out there killing the killers. And Bryan and Pookie’s superiors—from the mayor on down—seem strangely eager to keep the detectives from discovering the truth.
Doubting his own sanity and stripped of his badge, Bryan begins to suspect that he’s stumbled into the crosshairs of a shadow war that has gripped his city for more than a century—a war waged by a race of killers living in San Francisco’s unknown, underground ruins, emerging at night to feed on those who will not be missed.
And as Bryan learns the truth about his own intimate connections to the killings, he discovers that those who matter most to him are in mortal danger…and that he may be the only man gifted—or cursed—with the power to do battle with the nocturnals.


This is another one of those Sigler books that is happening right now. I mean, like in the last few years. Urban sci-fi horror at its most raw and awesome. Nocturnal hits close to home in that it is true to life right now. There is surprisingly little that is out of the ordinary here. I'm not saying that some of his other works, like Ancestor or Earthcore, are impossible, but they're a little more unbelievable than Nocturnal is. Of all the Sigler books I've read, I think Nocturnal is the closest to reality. In that way, it's surprisingly scary.


Sigler, as always, is knowledgeable and brings his readers along with the science that makes his plots possible. Between dark humor, absurd humor, tragedy, and real(istic) science, he's weaves a tale that's easy to read (or listen to).

My Thoughts

I don't know if Nocturnal isn't my cup of tea, if I should have read it rather than listened to it, or if the fact that the podcast version is not read by Sigler himself made this a little less than completely awesome for me. It could be any or all of those reasons, honestly. Now, this isn't to say I didn't enjoy Nocturnal. I did. it's definitely up to par with Sigler's other works. But... I think I'm more interested in the works he does that are further from the real. Earthcore and Ancestor are lower on my love-this scale, along with Nocturnal. While the GFL series, Infected, and Contagious are works I can obsess about.

Even despite my not liking Nocturnal as much as some of Sigler's other works, I still thoroughly enjoyed the book. The ending was wonderfully satisfying, particularly the very last moments. The characters are fitting and fleshed out, perfectly suited to the plot. Their actions, words, quirks, and everything are perfectly understandable. It all just fits. Sigler is a puzzlemaster when it comes to books. Nocturnal just didn't strike me like some of his other works have.

Would I Recommend This Book? Oh, yeah! While in my opinion, not Sigler's most catching work, there is a ton of awesomeness here. It IS a good book. This is just personal taste keeping the stars from being top-notch. That said, I give Nocturnal a Zed-carrying 4 of 5 stars.

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