Lurker, the second work of his that I have read, is a prime example. This novella concerns a wife, Meg, and husband, Harry, still reeling from the loss of their baby. They’ve moved from the city to a cottage on the northeast coast of England to flee the unpleasant memories related to the loss. This is true for Meg at least. Her grief is overwhelming, and while she has made progress in therapy, she is still troubled by intrusive thoughts and images regarding everything in her life. The descriptions of her hanging on to normalcy by repressing every thought that is the least bit threatening or out of character for her life and her relationship with Harry are both painfully touching and very troubling. You know that this thin wall she has built to maintain her mental health is going to crash down at some point.
Harry, on the other hand, is an unsympathetic jerk. He is more concerned with padding his business accounts and firing employees who are ‘disposable’ than meeting his wife’s emotional needs. His sole contribution to the relationship is the willingness to commute two hours each way so his wife can heal by the coast.
Of course, moving is not a good idea while struggling with a tremendous loss. Since Meg has no social supports in her new environment, she has to play hostess to the thoughts and images in her head. She begins to explore the cliffs and neighboring areas and fines an abandoned quarry mine. Troubling thoughts about whether Harry is having an affair transition into thoughts that maybe something horrible is alive in the mine… some kind of monster capable of severing heads and limbs of unwitting people and adapting its tentacles to assume the shape of the heads and hands of its victims. This is one cool monster.
Meg’s imagination starts running away with her. She sees a missing young woman who may or may not have been devoured by the monster, the town children may or may not be part of the monster, a lost traveler may or may not be the women with whom Harry is having an affair.
This is a tightly constructed novella. The sense of paranoia and descent into madness is very believable. Likewise, the sense of terror and impending doom grabs you and won’t let you go. Is Meg losing her mind? Is the monster real? What is reality? Who knows? But the ride towards the bizarre conclusion is well worth the confusion. Highly recommended.