I've absolutely devoured every one of Michael Marshall Smith's books (that's the name under which his past works were written, in case you'd like to find more of his work.) Another book released earlier in the year by a different writer named Martin Smith called The Straw Men likely precipitated the change of pen name, although why the publisher calls this "his debut novel" is puzzling. His books are bestsellers in the UK.
As someone said earlier, Mr. Marshall (or Smith) really knows how to "turn a word." As wonderfully dark and fast-paced as this book is, I, too, kept finding myself re-reading certain paragraphs here and there, just because the author has an incredible gift of being able to sprinkle profound insights amidst a breakneck plot and non-stop progression of the story. His literary prowess never gets in the way of the story.
For horror buffs, this is a completely fresh, wonderful read, and it's indeed a shame that the author has not gained the stellar notoriety he so rightly deserves. (Although two of his prior works have been secured for VERY large sums from movie studios, including Spielberg's Dreamworks, who paid a whopping seven-figure sum for the rights to Spares.)
To the story: The book centers around two different protagonists, each tracking down what appears to be a serial killer, but in the end, turns out to be much, much more. The main, first-person protagonist attempts to unravel and come to grips with a very intriguing set of clues that shed light on an extremely bizarre past that he'd never imagined. At the same time, a pair of detectives are drawn into a similarly bizarre serial killer case that turns out to be much bigger than what appears on the surface, and as we come to learn, anything the world has ever seen. As more is learned and the story progresses, the two sets of protagonists find themselves on the same case, with a satisfying conclusion that still begs a sequel. Not to be trite, but this truly is one of those rare page-turners that melts the hours away as you read it.
One thing that I really like about Marshall's (Smith's) books is that unlike many horror stories or thrillers, his lead characters are strong and intelligent - not the typical meek, everyday Joes who end up embroiled in some kind of dark situation, as many horror novels tend to be. His characters drive the story, and are not "passive" about it in the least. I just like that. I wholeheartedly recommend this book as a must-buy, and all of Smith's past works as well (which venture more into the "light Sci-Fi/horror" realm.)
One side note: Smith is British, and if you go the amazon.co.uk site, you can find a collection of short stories published in a book called "What You Make It" by him that's not available in the states, which is also a wonderful read, and well worth the airmail surcharges to import. If you enjoy Smith's work, don't miss it.