Horror is a genre that is much maligned. There are people who think nothing of reading a deeply supernatural thriller by John Connolly and yet would scoff at the idea of looking for something to read in the horror section. Preferences are, of course, complex things, but I think it boils down to this: for every great writer in the genre--a Jeff Long, say, or a Peter Straub--who writes elegant novels that don't get too very gory or bloody, there's another writer (often far more well-known), such as Stephen King, who doesn't hesitate to give it over to the gross-out whenever possible. Don't get me wrong; I think Stephen King deserves all the accolades he gets, and I snatch up every one of his novels as soon as--or even before, if I can--they come out. But some people just don't have the tolerance for vomit, blood, and alien fungi that I do.
Scott Sigler has planted his flag firmly in the camp of the gross out. And oh, I hope he was wearing his waders when he did so, because there is some deep, nasty shit in his first novel, Infected.
In Infected (which I can tell you without spoiling anything is ripe for a sequel...and probably already has one in the works) people across the country have been infected with--what? a bacterium? a virus? tiny cyborgs? Well, whatever it is, it causes them to behave violently, erratically, and finally, murderously. Visible signs are a triangle shaped rash beneath the skin. Oh yes, and their corpses rot away to nothing within days, making it difficult for CDC scientist Margaret Montoya and her team to isolate the cause and figure out how to fix it.
We get inside the mind of one of the infected, Perry Dawsey, as he fights, then gives into, but ultimately defeats the triangles. It's not a pretty thing. He hears voices. They tell him to do things. They punish him when he doesn't. And to get rid of them Perry has to do some really, really nasty things to himself.
I won't tell you what the triangles are, mainly because I'm not entirely sure myself. I will, however, recommend this quick, nasty read. I will also recommend, though, that you not read it on a full stomach.