Halfhead by Stuart Macbride

September 11, 2010


A compelling and strangely disturbing book set in Glasgow many years into the future. The answer to violet criminals is to turn them into half heads, mutilated with no jaw bone, lobotomised so they are unable to think and sent out among the community to do menial jobs. Ignored and mocked, with no way back to the person they once were.

William Hunter, assistant network director, is sent out to the connurb blocks on Glasgow s south side to investigate a murder. The connurbs are on a trigger edge, riots could start at any second and they need to move fast. What should be a routine murder investigation turns out to be much much more.

At the same time one of the halfheads is becoming aware. Dr Fiona Westfield, a prolific serial killer, realises what has been done to her. She wants revenge, she wants her life back and William Hunter is the one who took it from her. She will stop at nothing to get it and will spill a lot of blood on her way to this.

The book is compelling and will keep you turning the pages to find out what has happened. You get involved with the characters and the plot is fast moving and will keep you interested. I felt that it lacked some background information, I was never sure when in the future it was set and how the people in Glasgow got so hooked on virtual reality they no longer seemed to have a real life. However this was easily overlooked as you read on to find out what happened. There are a number of different sub-plots, each of which are well developed and gradually combine together to make a whole.  There are a number of gruesome and shocking bits, which fit in well with the novel as a whole, but paint a disturbing picture of the future.

I enjoyed the book on the whole and the ending leaves you feeling that there will be a sequel. A good read but if you are easily disturbed not one for you.

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