I have read and am a fan of Andrew Taylor’s Superhumans series. So when I opened the package containing my copy of the Adjusters I knew I had received something special*.
The cover illustration is eye-catching and resembles what I imagine a psychopath would have as a coat of arms. I found The Adjusters to be a departure in both style and content to his earlier books but just as tightly plotted and enjoyable.
The opening scenes of body horror promised so much and did not disappoint, what appeared to be the start of an excellent medical horror morphed into an brilliant blend of conspiracy and horror thriller.
We are introduced to Henry Ward the hero of the piece and his mother, on their way to her new job in a Newton, a perfect town in the middle of nowhere. The scene is set perfectly with an unsettling encounter with a runaway and the local police officer at a semi-rundown service station. This is an excellent piece of foreshadowing, setting Henry up against corrupt authority figures and people suspicious and fearful of teenagers.
It reads as a cross between The Stepford Wives and the Manchurian Candidate with a dash of big Brother thrown in to the mix!
The Adjusters also reminded me a bit of a movie from the late 1990’s called The Faculty, it was about a school where the teaching staff was taken over by a malevolent alien intelligence that then set about converting the students into their drones. I loved that film but The Adjusters is better, for one it is more believable. The scariest part of the book for me is that it is not outside the realms of possibility. I am paranoid enough to believe that there are organisations dedicated to making the general population more pliable through brain surgery and implants.
I devoured the book in a single sitting, it reads as a standalone novel but there are enough loose ends dangling that leave it open to a sequel.
*I was not wrong!