Fluke – James Herbert,
James Herbert is an author that I have read in passing over the years and always enjoyed. His books might not have been astounding but they are very enjoyable and have stayed with me. The Kindle have recently offered several of his older books for a very low price and so I couldn’t resist in snapping them up. “Fluke” was the first to intrigue me.
He was a stringy mongrel wandering the streets, driven by a ravenous hunger and hunting a quarry he could not define. Somewhere in the depths of his consciousness, the dog they called Fluke knew that he was once a man.
Some people might be turned off having a dog as the main character of a book. Even if it is a man trapped in the dog’s body as is the case here. I have only read one other similar story and that was a very enjoyable short story by James Rollins in the Warriors 3 Anthology. Considering that and the fact in “Nobody True” James Herbert has already demonstrated how skilled he is about writing about a situation where someone is trapped in another body, I was looking forward to this.
I am pleased to say I was not disappointed. Maybe, it is because I have a dog but I found myself identifying with all mannerisms Herbert managed to portray in his main character “Fluke”.
When describing the world through the eyes of a canine it is obvious objects and animals are going to be called different things. However there is a danger of acknowledging this and therefore relabeling everything until you are unable to describe a dam thing, or ignoring the fact and just getting on with the story which lessens the impact of the canine character. Herbert skilfully avoids such a trap by having Fluke retain some human memories whilst also having the instincts of a dog. The result is effective as the lines are blurred and so Fluke is able to describe things through the eyes of a human and others through the eyes of a dog. The result is effective and allows the reader to immerse themselves in the world of Fluke and believe in the fact he is a dog.
Herbert’s portrayal of Fluke is so effective that I have found myself looking at my own dog and wondering if there is a man trapped in there.
The plot itself rattles along at a frantic pace. This is a short read but feels like the perfect length. Fluke travels from area to area encountering all kinds of characters but human and animal. The best of these is Rumbo whose friendship with Fluke is actually quite touching.
Underlining the sojourn, there is the need of Fluke to get home to his wife and child. This always focuses the plot and gives Fluke purpose to his otherwise meandering but eventful travels.
The ending comes quickly, but is satisfying if predictable. I was worried that the plot was going down one route which would have been silly (I won’t say as I don’t want to spoil the book) but thankfully Herbert avoids this and only hints at it.
Overall, this is another strong entry into the Herbert library. I am looking forward to reading more of his stuff soon.
My rating 8.8