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The Levels [Paperback]

Sean Cregan
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
RRP: £8.99
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Book Description

5 Aug 2010

An explosive debut novel - THE LEVELS is a dark, urban gothic thriller guaranteed to appeal fans of Child and Kernick.

On the outskirts of Newport, on the US East Coast, lies an abandoned housing project: the Levels. Inhabited by Newport's homeless population, the Levels are run by the all-powerful Sorrow.

As THE LEVELS opens, ex-CIA agent Nate Turner, who is in the Levels to find out who has just tried to kill him, meets a 14-year-old girl Ghost. Ghost is a Fury, one of Sorrow's trained, teenage assassins looking for a way back to her normal life.

Also in the Levels is Kate, a suspended cop, who has been told that she has only days to live after being attacked, and infected, by the Beast, a serial killer working the streets. The Beast is out for revenge on Kate's new employer, who he believes created the infection that's killing him, an infection that has also been released into the Levels.

Now Ghost is trying to escape Sorrow, Kate is looking for the Beast and Turner is looking for answers. One thing's for sure, some people aren't going to survive the fallout...

Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Headline (5 Aug 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0755371143
  • ISBN-13: 978-0755371143
  • Product Dimensions: 19 x 13 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,499,391 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Sean makes things up for a living, and consequently is the youngest of 14 children fathered by Scotland's first astronaut and a mute Albanian salsa dancer. As well as his Nobel Prize in chemistry, he has the distinction of being the only man ever to simultaneously hold the world heavyweight boxing title and the post of UN under-secretary to Nepal. He is the inventor of squirty cream and has been married eight times.

See? That's how he does it. In reality, Sean is the pen name of John Rickards, whose works and (confusingly) author page you can find here on Amazon too. As Sean he writes no-cyber cyberpunk noiry urban thrillers and offbeat short fiction in a variety of genres. As John he writes poker-facedly serious crime.

You can find him at or on Twitter as @Nameless_Horror.

Product Description


""A convincing, engaging and constantly surprising industrial thriller, it marks the arrival of a huge new talent." --Steve Mosby, author, " The 50/50 Killer

Book Description

The brilliant debut novel from an outstanding new talent to the Headline list, Sean Cregan, THE LEVELS is a high-energy, fast-paced, dark gothic thriller set in the Levels, an abandoned housing project on the outskirts of Newport.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Gripping and suspenseful right through to the powerful ending, I found this hard to put down.

An engaging blend of creepy gothic atmosphere with the pace and twists of a thriller, this book will keep you hooked til the end. The intertwined stories of teenaged Ghost, suspended cop Kate and ex-CIA operative Turner, all provide nail-biting tension and excitement, but they are also sympathetic characters that pull you into the story.

The scene is set up beautifully, convincing you of the reality of the sinister ruins in which Sorrow works his evil. There's a lot of great action and some gruesome deaths, but the worst kinds of violence done to people are things they have to live with and struggle against - Kate's disease, Ghost's addiction, and the horror of The Levels.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, dark thriller. 22 April 2011
'The Levels' is the first entry into the world of Newport City and the characters who reside within. The Levels themselves being a failed housing development, which has been left to ruin and overrun by the homeless and displaced, all controlled by 'Sorrow' an untouchable crime lord who oversees his teenage assassins, named 'The Furies', in their nefarious activities.

What makes 'The Levels' different than a standard thriller, is the characters who inhabit the dark and dirty world of Newport City. 'Ghost' is a teenage assassin, who is trying to escape the clutches of Sorrow and The Furies, is a complicated character, with many nuances which are explored to a point, leaving you wanting more. An excellent creation, you will find yourself wanting to read more stories featuring this character.

The setting is a real bonus also. Newport City, and by extension The Levels themselves, is a suburban nightmare made real. A grime filled world of despair and corruption.

Cregan writes every word to pack a punch in some way. There are few to none stops to take a breath, as the pace is relentless, leaving you hyperventilating towards the end. In other hands, it could of ended in a convoluted mess, with plot strands being left unresolved and a writer giving up on trying to create an ending which works. But Cregan manages to pull everything together, creating a masterful tale which will stay with you long after reading.

An excellent thriller, 'The Levels' is a must read. With some standout scenes of action and storytelling (read the scene on the rooftop between Turner and Ghost, an example of excellent character writing) 'The Levels' should be on everyones bookshelves. If you like your crime thrillers with something a bit extra, I'd highly recommend you reading the first novel featuring Sean Cregan's Newport City.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Creepy!!! 28 Mar 2011
After reading many crime and detective based books i found this was fresh and a new take on descriptive crime writing. From the off the story feels so dark and gritty that when putting the book down it felt like coming out in to a sunny day. The characters are great and the twisting fast paced thriller leads to an explosive ending.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars High Level 28 Feb 2012
Five minutes into the future, Newport, NC. Failed law enforcement officers, Turner and Friedman destroy the evil biotechnology company Sirius Bio-Life whose profits are made through the murder and suffering of America's under-classes.

Turner, ex-CIA agent now PI, watches reports of his own murder on TV. Graffiti on his wall, visible on the news reports, leads him to The Levels, a mythically lawless, disease-ridden part of town, where his cohort Charlie lives. Chased by `cops', he seeks an old buddy who sets him up at a `safe' house in The Levels, where he finds Ghost, a fourteen-year old girl on the run. Ghost takes him to a bar where they might find Charlie and they get shot at. Charlie has vanished but in his apartment they discover a list of names headed "Sirius Bio-Life". `Cops' ambush them in the apartment. Ghost does some `Lace', kills the `cops' with a butterfly knife and collapses into a coma. Turner takes her to Turk, who injects the antidote into her spinal column.

While Ghost recovers, Turk tells Turner about The Furies. The Tower at the heart of The Levels is populated by a cult led by the Messianic `Sorrow'. Sorrow delivers terrible even-handed justice on behalf of (or upon) those who request it. He lords over a posse of adolescent girls, `The Furies', runaways and abductees, who are trained to act as his assassins. Ghost has the Furies' tattoo, and Turk assumes she has escaped before her training and brainwashing was complete. Turner returns to the bar where they were shot at, interrogates and kills one of the spooks, then goes to look for their boss with Ghost. They are attacked by one of Sorrows men who explains the Ghost is addicted to `Lace', will die without it and that the cult wants her back.
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