Unsettling Chapters: Mo Hayder

You’re more likely to find English author Mo Hayder’s 2000 debut novel, Birdman, filed under crime or mystery than horror, but don’t let that fool you. This book is more gruesome, sadistic and delivers more chills than almost anything you’ll find on the horror shelves.

Birdman contains just about all the elements a fan of subversive literature could ask for: graphic violence, necrophilia, torture, mutilation, the creepy next-door neighbor, the tormented detective with a troubled past, an unsolved child murder that haunts the entire tale and you’ll never guess how the birds come into play.

Befitting its tagline, “For some killers, murder is just the beginning…” this book will disturb the most hardened of readers.

Hayder published a sequel, The Treatment, themed around child pornography, which futhered the torment of her protagonist, Jack Caffery, and his quest to find his missing brother. Unfortunately, The Treatment failed to hit the same high notes as Birdman, but was bold enough to leave us with a white-knuckle cliffhanger that left fans clamoring for resolution.

However, Hayder went another direction with subsequent books, Tokyo and Pig Island, which are stand-alone novels unconnected with the Jack Caffery series. They failed to live up to the promise of her debut, but Hayder showed a willingness to push limits, taking us to gangland Japan and to the remote island home of a reclusive Scottish cult.

In 2008, Hayder returned to Jack Caffery with Ritual, the first in her Walking Man series. The fourth installment of the series is set for publication in 2013.

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