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HATER by David Moody comes to us in book form via a path
somewhat less traveled in publishing circles. Moody self-published
the title online and sold the film rights to it without an agent;
the fact that such is news means that it usually doesn’t
happen that way. But books as immediate, as vibrant and as scary as
this one usually don’t happen either. This is a story that
will clear your sinuses and get your pulse racing, even as you see
the world around you within it.

Told in first person present tense, HATER is the narrative of
Danny McCoyne, a lower tier British civil servant who is struggling
on just about every front. McCoyne is bored with his dead end,
unsatisfying job, one for which he is ill-suited anyway. He lives
with his wife and three children in a cramped apartment in a
transitional housing development on a downhill skid. The combined
salaries of the two adults barely make ends meet, and his ability
to better himself is weighed down partially by ennui and, by
McCoyne’s own admission, laziness. McCoyne’s
father-in-law is a constant thorn in his side, an ever-present
reminder of what’s what and what’s right, made all the
more irritating by the fact that, more often than not, he is

McCoyne’s boring and unsatisfying world is shattered one
day when, on his way to the office, he witnesses a brutal attack by
a man upon an elderly woman. This is apparently a random act of
violence, memorable because of its senselessness and proximity,
rare but not unheard of. Similar incidents begin to occur with an
exponential rapidity. A bar argument during a televised soccer game
quickly escalates into a fatal incident. A motorist without reason
or explanation chases down and runs over a pedestrian. Two school
girls find that their usual walk home ends in a violent, senseless
death. The media quickly dubs the instigator in each of these cases
a “Hater”; news programs consist almost entirely of
panel discussions regarding the whys and wherefores of the
increasing frequency of the attacks, then give way to public
service announcements that inform the populace of curfews.

All of this appears to be the result of a mysterious condition
of unknown etiology that causes the afflicted individual to engage
in a sudden outbreak of violence against those around them. McCoyne
ventures out with great reluctance and only for such tasks as
foraging for groceries or retrieving his father-in-law, but for the
most part he huddles with his family in their apartment, wondering
who is in charge, if anyone. It is only when McCoyne himself
becomes afflicted that everything becomes clear. He is not alone.
And what has gone before is nothing compared to the chaos that is

Events similar to those described within the first several pages
of HATER can be viewed on any number of websites, or in some cases,
just outside your front door or car window. The world depicted here
seems to be coming; indeed, maybe it is here already. While
complete in itself, it is but the first installment in a projected
trilogy. If Moody’s next novel, DOG BLOOD, is as seemingly
prophetic as HATER, it will be frightening indeed.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 22, 2011

by David Moody

  • Publication Date: April 13, 2010
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
  • ISBN-10: 031260808X
  • ISBN-13: 9780312608088