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CR3 #77: 48 by James Herbert

James Herbert's 48 begins three years after the end of World War II. In this world, Hitler's final act before committing suicide was to release the Nazis' top secret bio-weapon over London. The weapon is a blood disease that causes most people to drop dead wherever they may be. Some take slightly longer to die, some linger for years as their blood slowly turns black and congeals in their veins. Some, it turns out, are totally immune due to a sheer fluke of genetics. One such person is an American pilot named Hoke. He's spent the past three years surviving alone in London, accompanied by a stray dog. As the book begins, he's on the run from a group of "blackshirts," a group of "slow-death" suffers lead by a mad nobleman. Hoke runs across a small band of fellow survivors, and soon all of them are fighting for their lives in a post-apocalyptic world.

This was not a bad read. The characters are a tiny bit cliched, but it is after all not a character study but a thrilling empty-world adventure book. For the most part, the main character is a typical action hero, full of cutting one-liners, bravado, and a slightly tragic back story. The other characters are distinct, but not particularly engaging. The story is frankly too short to get attached to any of the secondary characters. There are some really great chase scenes, and one through the London tube system is dark, creepy, and a little bit scary. On the whole, this is not a bad action book, but there's not much more to it than that.

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