Originally published at Fangoria.com on Nov. 14, 2010
SHREDDER, a new e-book by Garry Charles (pictured), packs plenty of monsters and viscera into its uncompromisingly brutal tale of killers-for-hire stumbling into the bloody path of a merciless creature. A deadly cat-and-mouse game is played between the unstoppable monster and the ruthless assassins.
Corbin Keene once suddenly woke up in a pool of blood and found his entire team torn limb from limb. Since then, he has never been the same, falling downhill into despair and heavy drinking. His mind is filled with neverending questions about what happened that horrible night. Unexpectedly, the wealthy Noel Clarke calls upon Corbin to return to duty once more. For two days, Keene must lead a covert ops team on a secret mission at a secret laboratory, where scientists and nurses are working on a hush-hush project while guards patrol the secure area. Corbin could care less about what’s going on inside the lab; he just wants the money promised to him when the mission is over.
Corbin’s ragtag team crack through security, taking out the unsuspecting guards floor by floor. The break-in is running smoothly just as planned—until alarms abruptly sound off. Amidst the frenzy, the scientists and nurses begin screaming for their lives; deep within the facility, their creation has awakened. The abomination, known as Shredder, breaks out of its steel cage, tearing through the reinforced walls. Corbin and his team have been taken for fools; Clarke is the lab’s owner, paying the scientists to create a monster for him, and the humanoid lurking in the darkness is his property. Clarke now wants to see how his shapeshifting creature stacks up against a band of cold-hearted mercenaries.
As men with guns stand outside the exits, preventing anyone from escaping, Corbin is forced to remain inside and face the hideous demon. And there’s more at stake: as Corbin’s tough compatriots die one by one, a bidding war takes place. A representative of each foreign nation watches the gruesome massacre, intending to buy the monster from Clarke. If Corbin doesn’t defeat the barbaric beast, the highest bidder will unleash the beast upon the rest of the world.
Charles crafts a grim tale with SHREDDER and consistently maintains a downbeat tone, with the lurid action escalating at every turn. Though the plot reads like the basis for an exciting video game, the secondary characters needed more dimension. There’s nothing new to discover about the archetypes in Corbin’s team, such as the wild card and the muscle. More depth should have been added to distinguish some of these guys, but the narrative remains told from Corbin’s antisocial point-of-view.
Charles does effectively ante up the mayhem, however, and sustains a strong level of intensity throughout this shoot-’em-up spectacle. SHREDDER is available for download through Kindle, Nook, and Amazon; for more information, you can also go to the official website.