Underground  by S.L. Grey

A virus has hit China, killing many and spreading rapidly to the west coast of the US. A motley assortment of ‘Preppers’ have purchased units in a privately owned former nuclear bunker in remotest Maine, and are confident that they will survive the impending apocalypse, safe underground. They could be wrong.

It quickly becomes apparent that all is not as it should be, either in the Sanctum – as their new home is known – or amongst the residents themselves. Dead bodies start to pile up, as the facility struggles to deal with the demands of its inhabitants. The result is a modern version of the tried and tested murder/mystery.

Imagine Murder on the Orient Express, re-set in a nuclear fall-out shelter, and you have Underground. I expect Agatha Christie would be content with the premise. As for the execution (of the plot, not the characters), she may be a tad more reserved.

Underground is a decent novel, written by the partnership of Sarah Lotz and Louis Greenberg. It flows well, and the tension and claustrophobia build nicely. The character development is also reasonably solid and the protagonists are moderately engaging.

Where Underground falls down, somewhat, is with the inconsistencies of behaviour that the characters engage in. This is a problem that I notice often cropping up in many novels. Quite frankly, the protagonists are engaging in conduct that would not be expected of the protagonists that we have been introduced to. It’s not a terrible flaw in this novel, but it is there nonetheless, and it hurts the overall story. It’s kinda like when, in a horror movie, the sexy co-ed hears a noise in the attic of an old and spooky building, and decides to investigate on her own whilst wearing only a skimpy negligee (or did I just imagine that…).

That said, I didn’t figure out who the killer(s) was, and enjoyed the ending in Underground. Overall, this is not a waste of time. It won’t make you weep in exasperation or gnaw in frustration upon your granny’s wooden leg. It might irritate you slightly though, as the residents of the Sanctum do things that common sense should tell them not to.

Give Underground a go, but don’t shout at me if it’s not to your liking.

Sult scale rating: 6 out of 10. Stocking filler and time killer.

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