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48 - James Herbert

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Author: James Herbert / Genre: Horror

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    8 Reviews
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      18.04.2012 13:53
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      Recommended, and interesting ending

      This review is of the military horror novel "'48" by James Herbert, first published in 1996.

      Without giving away too much of the plot itself, the basic essence of the book is about a London where the allies didn't win the war. Instead the Germans were able to send V2 missiles to attack the city with a deadly disease, which only those with the AB blood group were able to survive.

      Although most of the city's population had been killed as they were going about their usual life, some had survived but were even weakening. It was the leader of this group, Lord Hubble, that wanted to the blood from those with AB blood groups and use it himself replacing his own blood group, to make him better.

      The book involves a number of characters who have the AB blood group, and who need to escape London, and those who aren't fortunate to have that blood group and need to stop them. I found the characters believable, although they were a little stereo-typical in places, a German, a member of the aristocracy and an American, to name just a few.

      I haven't read any of James Herbert's books for several years, and remember in the past that he has written books such as the Rats and Lair, which are when giant rats attack people, and also some more haunting books such as The Magic Cottage. I didn't find that this book was similar to any others which I've read, and it was an interesting mix of horror, history, military and thriller.

      There were a number of twists in the story, and not everyone in the book survived who I expected, and vice versa, so I didn't feel that it was too predictable. Although I thought that the characters were genuinely believable, I found that the "evil" characters in the story were a little under-described, there wasn't any real back-story provided regarding them, and why they were doing what they were doing.

      In terms of the plot, some of the assumptions made for the basis of the story did seem a little too far-fetched, such as the way in which escapes occur in the underground, and how so many people managed to survive for as long as they did without being caught. But given that the book is about an alternative history of what happened during the Second World War, the author should be allowed such creativity in this area.

      The descriptions of the bodies were a common theme, and how so many people had died as soon as the bombs were dropped, with their blood becoming hard and causing a near instant death. That meant that as the characters in the book explored London, they continually came across dead bodies, and the description of these was quite haunting. For me, this was well written, but I'd expect that given the author's strong reputation as a horror writer.

      I found the book an easy read, and as usual my judge of a good book is whether or not I wanted to keep reading, which I did and finished it off over a couple of days. On that basis, I'd definitely recommend the book, as although I didn't find it as deep as some of his other works, it was readable and intriguing enough for me to want to continue and find out what happened to the characters.

      I was able to borrow this book from my local library, but it's currently cheap to be able to source a copy. The book is available for 2.20 pounds including postage, or around 4 pounds for those that want a new copy from a third party seller. The retail price is 6.99 pounds, and if you want the book from Amazon themselves, it is currently available for 5.17 pounds. There is a Kindle version of the book which is a little expensively priced at 3.99 pounds. My copy of the book was 340 pages long and the book's ISBN is 978-0006476009.

      Overall, I'd recommend this book, it isn't the most pleasant of reads, but it mixes history, politics and horror together well. The book maintained my interest and I felt engaged enough with the book to carry on reading to the end quite quickly. I felt some of the characters needed a little bit more analysis to understand why they thought as they did, but this was a minor flaw in my view. It's a shame that no film has been made of this, it would be a fascinating piece of cinema to go and see.

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        26.04.2011 16:29
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        If you like a good scare, read this!

        This is a review of the 1996 book '48 by James Herbert. I've never read any of his books before but I believe this one is different from his usual material. I can honestly say this is the best book I've read in ages. It was like watching a film the writing was so vivid and descriptive. The storyline reminded me a bit of the Will Smith film I am Legend in that it centres on a man and his dog in a devastated world.

        The book follows Ex American pilot Hoke in the year 1948, three years after the second world war. They are battling with Hitler's final act of vengence, a killer virus that makes people die of 'the blood death' unless they have a certain rare AB blood type. Hoke is fighting the blackshirts who want his blood literally.

        Hoke finds a few people to hook up with along his survival route and some are nice and some turn out to be nasty. One German survivor rubs Hoke up the wrong way and Hoke needs to resist the constant urge he has to kill him.

        I loved this book. The pace is fast and never lets you rest up, it's constant survival, page after page. The one night Hoke gets to rest he finds himself with a woman and has to satisfy her urges (several times lol). This book is not graphic but has a bit of something for everyone. The weapons are described in detail and the 1940s London buildings and sights are all explored by Hoke.

        If you are a fan of 'the world is ending' or zombie films you will love this book. Hoke is a good lead character and how can I not mention his faithful pooch Cagney! Hoke rescues Cagney from a
        Raven attack (near the Tower of London) and Cagney stays by his side for all his adventures.

        Being a survivor in an apocalyptic world is tough but Hoke makes the most of it and prepares many safe zones, escape routes and weapon and food stores to help him live. He is generous with his time and resources and looks after others using his natural instinct to survive.

        I did wonder how some of the other survivors lived for the past three years safely without running in to trouble as they rely on Hoke far too much to get by. They were out of the City where the world was obviously more peaceful but surely would have more experience of those dying from the blood death (some went more slowly than others).

        I would say the genre of this book is quite 'horror' as the corpses are described and quite scary if you imagine how many dead people died on the spot in this fiction book. Herbert explores a scenario that people were partly expecting in the second world war, with Hitler's dirty bombs and gas masks the talk of that time.

        Hoke the lead character slips into his American accent in some of the dialogue then not at all at some times. He strikes me as a bit grubby (not much running water around) and sexy at the same time, which is why I would have liked to see a film version of this book.

        I would watch this if it were a film and will look out for more books by Herbert. The cover says 'Herbert's best yet' - Daily Mail but I don't have any other books to compare it to yet. It gets a full 5 stars from me.

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          29.08.2008 23:09
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          RECOMMENDED xx

          It's 1948 and three years ago Hitler unleashed a chemical weapon that freed a killer disease into the atmosphere called Blood Death.

          Three years later and the majority of the world are dead, either dying where they stood from the Blood Death or slowly and painfully as they tried to help others around them. Either way, only a handful of people survived this devastating disease, and you had to be AB Negative blood type in order to do this.

          Hoke, an American pilot, has spent the last three years living in London, trying to survive on his own and avoid the lingering effects of the Blood Death, in a group of people who are after his blood to transfuse and cure them. Hoke knows it won't work but is caught and nearly killed until a small group of passersby, also AB Negative, save him and attempt to make sense of their lives.

          This started really fast paced, with the Blackshirts (the dying men after Hoke's blood) chasing him down and him running and fighting. This was great but it went on for about three chapters, and I did feel like giving up at the beginning. There is only so many times you can explain a specific escape of fight with the same people until it becomes boring with too much action.

          After this though, when Hoke was introduced to the other group of survivors it became more readable and I enjoyed the "end of the world" type scenario which was very similar to The Rats trilogy which Herbert wrote about as well. The intense loneliness and the attempts at salvaging and storing everything that could be useful was really interesting to me and again I found myself immersed in these ideas.

          There are racial elements through the book as one of the survivors who help rescue Hoke is a German and Hoke despises him with a passion that I found disturbing and the initial descriptions of what happens when he first finds out he is German are harsh.

          However, this is a balanced and enjoyable story and I was glad that I stuck with it past those first few chapters and lived the lives of these people with them, as Herbert has a way of drawing you in and experiencing what they do.

          Another thumbs up for this Herbert book.

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            17.04.2005 22:00
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            JAMES HERBERT - ‘48
            -------------------------------

            James Herbert has been writing horror fiction for many years now, with such classics as “the Rats” and “Haunted” to name just a couple, these books have pushed him to the forefront of British horror and rightly so.

            Up until recently I didn’t know much about Herbert as I was stuck in a bit of a rut, where I would want to read something, but not know of any good authors, seeing as I had already read all the Stephen King books and the James Patterson ones, I felt like something different, so I picked up my dads copy of Herbert’s “Nobody True” and have since read about six of his books over the course of a couple of weeks.

            So after a few novels I had started to realise that I had found a writer that did horror better than most, so that brings us up to date.

            This book was first released into the world in 1996, and is also only Herbert’s 17th Novel, which is quite surprising since he has been writing for such a long time, but with quality pieces like this and the rest of his catalogue he can be excused!

            Anyway onto the book…

            1945

            The war is about to end, the Germans have pretty much lost and everything seems to be going to plan, or It would have been but unfortunately no one realised that Adolph Hitler and his men had a devastating new weapon up their sleeves.

            Hitler unleashes a bunch of bombs around the world, causing a slow and painful death to almost everybody, except people of a certain blood type.

            Roll onto 1948 since this is where the story is set.

            Here we are introduced to Hoke and his dog Cagney.
            Hoke is an American Air force pilot, with an interesting history and quite a few skeletons in his closet, he is also one of the lucky ones that has the unaffected blood group.

            Unfortunately that doesn’t mean Hoke is safe, in fact he is far from it, as he seems to be head hunted by a scary bunch of people that seem to have the blood disease.

            Along the way Hoke happens across a small group of unaffected people and they fight for their survival in a war ravaged London.

            Among these that join him along the way are, an upper class woman, Muriel, A working class girl, Cissie, and A German named Stern, whom Hoke takes an obvious dislike to.

            Over the course of the story the group will travel through some interesting London landmarks such as Buckingham palace and the underground.


            That is basically the background to the story, but what is it actually like?

            Well that’s why i'm here, to tell you about it.

            Firstly you probably want to know if its an overly long book or a short story, well luckily its neither it’s a perfectly balanced book which at 330 pages is just about right for a few nights of reading, or if your like me a few hours of non stop reading.

            The story’s chapters are all quite short meaning that you get a real feeling of pace, something that really makes this an exciting novel is that it almost feels like an action movie.
            From the opening few pages to the end you never quite know what is about to happen, with some well written, pacy and descriptive action set pieces this isn’t a slow read, for example the first time we meet the evil blackshirts is in the first twenty pages and it’s during a tense nail biting race through the centre of London on a motorbike.

            When the story does slow down a bit we find out a bit more about the various character's and how they tend to interact with each other, for example Hokes immediate distrust of Stern due to him being German, this is very well written as you could imagine the hatred between the two during the war.

            Each person in the story was well filled out with enough information for you to imagine them as living people and they were all different enough to cause some interesting sections during the story.

            The story isn’t really in Herbert’s usual horror style, it’s more of an action suspense thriller type novel, although it isn’t short of its own horrific scenes and shocks.

            Herbert’s description of the war wracked London are all very realistic and as in any good book, you almost feel as you are there watching the action as an innocent bystander.

            Over the course of the story there are enough clever plot turns to keep you interested and you don’t quite know how things are going to turn out until the very last page.


            Overall.
            ----------

            At first this was one of the few Herbert books that didn’t jump off the shelf at me, it didn’t seem to feature his usual ghosts or other horror aspects, but as soon as I started to read it I realised how wrong I was to dismiss it straight away and it soon turned into a very enjoyable story that certainly passed a good few hours late into the early morning.

            Obviously the book isn’t perfect, no book is, but overall the story is gripping, the character's are fairly realistic and given enough life to make you believe in them.

            You should be able to pick this book up for about 5 pounds, but it might be worth looking in charity shops as they tend to have these sorts of books in a lot of them!

            Thanks for reading, but now its time to stop reading me and read this book!

            Kyle.






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              24.01.2003 03:09
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              The action kicks in straight away with Hoke and his dog Cagney trying to escape from a gang of about 60 Blackshirts who had discovered one of his secret hideaways in London, Buckingham Palace no less. The description of Hoke dodging shots while whizzing along corridors and bumping down carpeted stairs on his motorbike was so captivating that I was drawn into the book immediately and found myself urging Hoke to escape the bullets. Set in London in 1948, James Herbert produced one of those What If stories by changing history. The allies still won the war but the Germans have the ultimate revenge by unleashing a biological weapon on London with V2 rockets that has a horrendous impact throughout the world. The Blood Death kills horribly and quickly in most cases, but some die from it slowly. Only 3% of the world’s population are immune to the effects of the Blood Death because of their AB neg blood group. Hoke, an American pilot who fought in the war is immune but the Blackshirts are all slowly dying and understandably not very happy about it and are after Hoke‘s blood. Hoke meets up with four other immune people while trying to escape, their very different backgrounds and characters help to add dimension to the story. Muriel - a young upper class woman Cissie – 23 years old and from the working classes Wilhelm - a German ex serviceman Potter - a slightly nutty elderly air raid warden Hoke hates Wilhelm and wants to kill the German. Muriel and Cissie intervene many times, the war is over and Wilhelm isn’t to blame for the dreadful things that have happened. Hoke doesn’t agree and the tension between the two men erupts to the surface often during their evasion of the Blackshirts who relentlessly continue their pursuit of Hoke and then the others once they know that they exist. London is an almost deserted rubble filled tomblike place; the streets are strewn with vehicles that came to
              a standstill when their passengers died. Too many corpses for the few remaining healthy people to dispose of occupy the buildings that still stand in the aftermath of the blitz. An horrific backdrop to set a story in but a possibility if biological weapons were ever used. Hoke has several safe houses, stocked with food clothes and weapons. One that he takes the small group to is the Savoy hotel, they believe that they would be hard to find in such a large place as London. Not for long, the Blackshirts discover them and all hell breaks loose. Just one of the several battles between them and rudely interrupted by a mad German bomber who doesn’t know that the war is over. Survival is the aim of both the Blackshirts and Hoke’s little group but they can’t live alongside each other. Led by an English Nazi Hubble, the Blackshirts hunt while Hoke’s group hide. An injection of betrayal and sex into the story helps to make it tenser. I wasn’t too happy when I saw what the book was about. I’d grabbed it off the library shelves in a hurry and probably wouldn’t have read it if I hadn’t already read 2 of the 4 books that I’d brought home. I like horror stories and have enjoyed reading several of his books previously but have never been too keen on this type of survivor fiction. As it turned out it was a good choice. There was action all the way through and the different characters made it interesting. It was gruesome in parts with so many corpses around that had died harrowing deaths, but Herbert’s descriptions were sad rather than frightening and I think necessary to the story. I thoroughly enjoyed reading 48. It is well written and the pace fast enough for me not to want to put the book down. I read it in four late night sessions and only that many because I was too tired to stay awake. It isn’t a horror book in the same sense of some of his previous novels, The Lair, The Rats
              and The Fog but it is horrifically fascinating because you know that it isn’t so far fetched and that some time in the future it may be closer to reality than you would ever want it to be. The book made me think about what could happen if biological weapons really were unleashed on the world. We feel safe because we don’t really believe that anybody would be crazy enough to do it. I hope that it never happens; for most of us the world that we live in is a much safer and better place than Hoke’s world. Although Hoke’s hatred and suspicion of Wilhelm is racially based, I feel that Herbert was making the point that it is wrong and that the way to survive is to live alongside each other without prejudice. The ending is great, just as action packed as the rest of the book and left me wanting a follow up. If you like a thought provoking packed with action and tension read then I highly recommend 48. You can find it on Amazon for only £4.79.

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                31.01.2002 20:23

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                Another book by the best horror author ever and this is one of my favorite books of all time. Just like james herbert to write a book about thousands of people dying. The basic storyline is set in 1945, Hitler unleashes the Blood Death on Britain as his final act of vengeance. Hoke, an American pilot and one of a tiny minority with a rare blood group unaffected by the deadly disease, has survived alone among the debris and the dead of London for three years. Now, in '48, a slow-dying group of Facist Blackshirts believe their only hope is a complete transfusion of blood from one of Hoke's kind. Ever more desperate as their deaths approach, they're after his blood. Running for his life, Hoke is rescued by other survivors and together they're pursued in a spectacular but deadly chase through London's ravaged streets and historic landmarks, reaching a dramatic and explosive climax at the top of Tower Bridge. What a brilliant story, eh? This books, I think, is one of James Herberts best. This is quite an achievment as james Herbert has written many, many books: The Rats (1974) The Fog (1975) The Survivor (1976) Fluke (1977) The Spear (1978) Lair (1979) The Dark (1980) The Jonah (1981) Shrine (1983) Domain (1984) Moon (1985) The Magic Cottage (1986) Sepulchre (1987) Haunted (1988) Creed (1990) Portent (1992) The Ghosts of Sleath (1994) '48 (1996) Others (1999) Once... (2001) Anyway, this book combines breath taking action with spine tingling horror and a bit of romance. If you have read other books by James Herbert, then you will love this, if you haven't you will love it anyway. This book has a bit of adult content in but still it is a fantastic book to read and i completely recommend to anyone from the age of 15 years old and upwards.

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                28.10.2001 02:37
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                This is a fantastic departure from Herberts usual writings. Not a ghostie, ghoulie, psychic or spooky happening in sight! It is set in Britain after the Second World War, the Allies won but Hitler got his revenge by unleashing a type of biological warfare called the Blood Death, it calls everybody except those with a particular uncommon blood type. This is the main issue of the story. The main character is Hoke, an American who is being pursued by the Blackshirts and their leader Sir Max Hubble who has the idea that his life can be changed by a blood transfusion from a immune person. Hoke isnt the only survivor and he meets up with another groups, the upper class Muriel, down-to-earth Cissie and the German Wilhelm which causes a few clashes at first. Most of the book is set around trying to escape the Blackshirts, but Herberts fantastic descriptions of the character and their surroundings make this a lot less tedious then it could have been. It all leads to a showdown with Hubble where they all get captured, but in what has to be one of the funniest escapes ever the building they are in is bombed by a German pilot who seems unaware the war finished 3 years earlier. There is, in typical style a twist at this point but I'm not going to give the game away! There is then the big showdown at Tower Bridge with Hubble and his Blackshirts, but I'm still not going to give the plot away!! Or the end either!! There are certain conclusions and we do find out why Hoke didnt leave London and flee to the countryside but there I stop! A great read, a great departure, but a great new direction for Britains best horrow writer.

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                04.12.2000 00:53
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                48hrs Surprisingly enough this story is set in …. You guessed it – 1948 !! The scene is a devastated London 3 years after Hitler, in a final act of retaliation, released what was to become known as the “Blood Death” . This ultimately killed the majority of the population The hero of the story, an American pilot called Hoke has lived in the city all this time, one of only a few people unaffected by the disease his blood is highly sought after by a group of fascist “Blackshirts”. These Blackshirts weren’t killed outright but instead were dying slowly of the disease, they believe that their only hope of survival is a transfusion of immune blood from other survivors like, guess who ? So that’s the scene, it sounds pretty basic but the way James Herbert describes the ensuing chases and situations really does draw you into the book in such a way that you can actually see yourself there. In fact I actually visited London not long after I read this and it really was a weird feeling walking around the areas so graphically depicted but in such different circumstances. Setting aside the typically descriptive way James Herbert writes there is actually quite a good storyline running through the whole of the book. He even throws in a bit of black comedy in the form of a German bomber who periodically bombs London believing the war is still on ! The story itself ends in a bang but I wont spoil it for you, suffice to say this book wont scare you in the “normal” James Herbert way but it will grip you from start to finish. Another one you won’t want to put down.

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