Michael McBride provides an action packed plot laced with exciting creature horror in “Predatory Instinct.” While the general premise and formula has been done before, this horror-science fiction thriller offers enough surprises and well-crafted characters to recommend it.
A team of scientists discover the remains of an ancient human-like creature in a distant area of the Altai Mountains, only to be slaughtered by a savage beast in the same caverns. A rescue team (including the father of one of the original team) finds the monster, subdues it and foolishly arranges passage for the creature back to the Seattle area. The monster destroys the crew of that ship, and when the death ship rams another one that is a pirate ship, its crew is reluctant to report the horror they witness. This gives the monster the time needed to get a head start on its would-be hunters.
Meanwhile, in Seattle, Officer Elena Strum and Special Agent Grey Porter uncover grisly remains in The Warrens, an underground dwelling for the homeless soon to be eliminated by urban renewal plans. While these two sets of characters have no knowledge of each other for the first half of the book, the reader realizes the discoveries in The Warrens are eerily similar to those of the creature brought from its frozen home and now at large.
The stories collide as the action and horror build. The premise and plot reminded a lot of some of the early Preston-Child novels, especially “The Relic,” but McBride’s creature is unique and there are some surprises I did not see coming.
The action is well-paced. McBride strength, however, are his intense life-like characters. Rich in emotional and psychological detail, we really care about their fates and McBride seamlessly shifts from one point of view to another. He provides just enough science to make his monster believable without overwhelming us fiction readers who grow weary of too much fact.
McBride is a skilled novelist and “Predatory Instinct” is a fast-paced and often frightening ride. Highly recommended for fans of creature horror and also the thrillers of Preston-Child or Michael Crichton.