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Hitchers by Will Mcintosh


by Will Mcintosh

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Domestic terrorists have attacked Atlanta unleashing anthrax killing half a million residents. Because so many individuals have died within a short period of time, a rend in the fabric between this world and “Deadland” (a Dali-esque purgatory for the recently deceased to erode away and rejoin the cosmos) and the dead with unfinished business escape and possess the bodies of many Atlantans. Finn Darby is one who has been usurped by his alcoholic, abusive grandfather. Another is Finn’s deceased wife who died when struck by lightning on a canoe trip. She has possessed the body of a waitress that she had had an argument with on the morning before her death.

The initial signs of the possessions are evidenced when individuals begin to blurt out in Tourette’s Syndrome manner conversations frequently uttered by the deceased. Initially, professionals perceive these symptoms as post-traumatic stress disorder or another mental illness. The symptoms soon escalate to the deceased animating the host’s bodies relegating the host to observer status only. Each possession becomes longer and longer and Finn learns, if not stopped, will ultimately lead to the host and deceased trading places in Deadland.

Finn, the waitress, and others are in a race to discover what attracted the deceased to the mortal realm and to determine how to return them to Deadland. However, Finn confronts a dilemma. How does he return his grandfather but return his wife to the living? Is this fair to the waitress? And, what about this attraction I’m begin to feel for the waitress?

The novel is short and an easy, enjoyable read. The author being a psychology professor probably explains why he is so effective in exploring the emotions of both the hosts and deceased in this thriller. Since I'm also a psychology instructor at a nearby community college probably played a part in reading this novel. ( )
  John_Warner | Jan 19, 2016 |
Some time back, I read Will McIntosh's first novel, Soft Apocalypse, and found it fascinating. Like Soft Apocalypse, the narrator of Hitchers is a sensitive young man who seems to be in his late twenties. He’s well-educated, talented, open-minded and not a sexist jackass.

And, in Hitchers, he’s also being taken over by the spirit of his dead grandfather, a cantakerous and bigoted old-style cartoonist. Gramps is none too happy that Finn has taken over—and reinvigorated—his old comic strip.

This novel deals with grief, loss, and moving on—but with an added supernatural twist, given that, following a terrorist attack in Atlanta (Hitchers is set in either a near-future or alternate timeline that, unfortunately, is terrorized in ways that have so far only been seen in war zones).

Here’s the best thing of all about McIntosh: It’s character-driven writing that is well-plotted. By that I mean that the story moves quickly and deftly through a well-defined narrative arc, but at each point along the way, it is the well-defined nature of the characters in the story that make it work.

McIntosh is now on the short-list of sci-fi/speculative fiction authors whose books I’ll anticipate.

Reviewed for Sacramento News & Review: http://www.newsreview.com/sacramento/bibliolatry/blogs/post?oid=6885133 ( )
  KelMunger | Oct 3, 2014 |
I enjoyed the beginning and end. The start covered a terrorist anthrax attack, a well written car/body of water accident, and scary posession scenarios. I was creeped out/scared during a scene in a doctor's office where young kids showed the possession symptoms. Working the horror stuff into the middle of a plausible terrorist attack was clever. Books don't scare me, but the start of this one did.

The plot then turned more interesting than scary. The characters meeting up and dealing with the supernatural plot line was cool stuff. However, it lost its coolness for me, and turned into quite a few chapters/pages without a goal. There really was no point/plot for a bit. Just a bunch of people reacting to things.

The end picked up. The very last page wasn't all that great for me, but the conclusion of the ghosts in the three lead characters was well written. ( )
  mainrun | Mar 3, 2014 |
Really sucked me in but felt a little rushed at the end. I really enjoy this author overall. ( )
  whitebalcony | Oct 30, 2013 |
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After a terrorist attack in Atlanta kills 500,000 people and causes the dead to half-possess many of the survivors, Finn Darby must surmount his own ghostly "Hitcher"--his abusive, deceased grandfather--if he is going to find a way to send the dead back to where they came from.… (more)

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