When an eight-foot-tall man made of stone appears in the middle of a busy city center one July afternoon, two-bit (and antisocial) reporter Andy Pointer assumes it's just a publicity stunt.
Indeed, so does everyone else...until the Stone Man begins to walk, heading silently through the wall of the nearest building, flattening it, and killing several people inside as a result.
As efforts by the local police - and soon the government - to halt the Stone Man's inexorable progress prove futile, only three questions are on the watching world's lips:
Where has it come from, where is it going, and what does it want?
Andy is determined to be the first person to answer those questions; after all, he was there when it arrived. Surely the headaches and visions he's experiencing are proof of a mental connection to the Stone Man. Clearly his dreams of champagne and notoriety are all about to be fulfilled once he uncovers the truth...and the scoop of a lifetime.
In a pursuit that carries him the length of the country and the breadth of the Atlantic, Andy uncovers the jagged pieces of an increasingly terrifying puzzle. As the number of lives lost in the wake of the Stone Man reaches grim figures, the terrible results of Andy's blind determination force him to confront the savagery of human nature.
When irresistible forces aren't met by immovable objects, how far is too far? Andy must discover the answer - and find out who he really is - in the shadow of the Stone Man.
I picked up The Stone Man by Luke Smitherd as part of a two-for-one deal that popped up when it was time to spend a credit. I'd never heard of this author before but was intrigued enough by the blurb and the sample that I knew right away I had to get it.
This was some masterful storytelling. Slow burning, yet fast-paced when it needed to it. Trickles of details and hints of things to come expertly woven through it, drip-feeding bits of information kept me hooked the entire time.
One thing I particularly noticed was how this story got my heart literally pounding in my chest as the first contact came to its dramatic climax. Everything that had lead up to that point being brought to the boil and gave me goosebumps.
The first person perspective of protagonist Andy telling his story into a dictaphone sucked me right in as if I was there witnessing it all live with Andy, Paul, and the military. I had an inkling at the start about why it was being told this way and I was glad to be proven right as the story moved on.
The narrator, Matt Addis, has a voice I could listen to for hours at a time until the batteries in my earbuds died (which happened once or twice listening to this - I couldn't stop listening!). I'll certainly be checking out what else he has narrated.
As for Luke Smitherd, I'll also be checking out his back catalogue. I hadn't noticed when I purchase this book that it was book 1 in a series. Book 2 is being released a few days after this review is published... and I'm not sure how I feel about that.
On one hand - awesome, more from this world. On the other, the story was so complete it's hard to know if it'll be spoiled somehow by the second. I guess I'll need to think on that some more.
All in all, totally original story that kept me listening until my earbuds ran out of juice. Highly recommended.