Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Paul Elard Cooley's THE BLACK: OUTBREAK

In The Black: A Deep Sea Tale, literary horror author (and good friend of Your Humble Blogger) Paul Elard Cooley sic'd an ancient and mysterious and unique monster on a too-enterprising crew of roughnecks and scientists on an offshore oil rig. In The Black: Arrival, Cooley began exploring the implications of this entity's arrival on the mainland as it wreaked havoc on the testing laboratory to where the first novel's crew sent samples of oil that happened to also contain that entity, which results as harrowing and disastrous as those on the rig.

In this third novel, The Black: Outbreak, Cooley now shows us what happens when the entity, mistakenly treated as a disease organism, becomes the problem of a nearby hospital, the Centers for Disease Control, and members of Houston PD's SWAT. This means the reader is being asked to invest in a whole mess of new characters, and Cooley as usual does a fine job of deftly sketching them in, so a few words conveys a whole lot of information about who we're following through his labyrinth of nasty doom. But we've learned, we have, that more than half of these people are basically just monster chow.

Confession time: I found this one a tough slog compared to the first two. The middle of the book is basically just a long round of set 'em up and knock 'em down, as character after character succumbs to the basically unstoppable Black even as an isolated hero in the CDC mobile command unit finds the entity's weakness. It got a bit repetitive, there for a while, but then the tension (will the (very few) survivors be able to implement the solution in time? Especially since The Black has knocked out all of the hospital's utilities, even unto the backups?) between plight and solution kicked in to regain the book's momentum.

The ending is basically satisfying, even (bizarrely, for a Cooley novel) hopeful, while still setting up another sequel. And this one should have some character continuity, which makes me happy because I've grown attached to a few of the characters in this one.

I'm sure I went regret that at ALL.

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