cover image Subhuman: Unit 51, Book 1

Subhuman: Unit 51, Book 1

Michael McBride. Pinnacle, $9.99 mass market (400p) ISBN 978-0-7860-4158-9

Building on the success of 2015’s Subterrestrial, thriller powerhouse McBride begins his Unit 51 series with meticulous quasiscientific conceptual groundwork, drawing readers into a satisfyingly slow-building, intellectualized mystery. A group of experts who have made strange discoveries in archaeology, microbiology, crop circle research, and acoustics are brought together at a secret Antarctic underground government research facility to puzzle out the biology of nonhuman hominid skulls and the mechanisms of ancient alien artifacts. McBride neatly executes a sudden shift of mood and tone toward frantic horror when the story flips into a race to escape from savage human-alien hybrid predators in a confined space, evoking feelings of shock and terror. McBride brings this episode to a clear conclusion but provides plentiful material for the next volume: teasers about Nazi research into alien involvement in recent human history, and characters with personal agendas whom he leaves alive to continue their explorations. Agent: Alex Slater, Trident Media Group. (Nov.)