Sunday, April 21, 2019

Book Review: Blowfly

Book Review: 'Blowfly' by David Loman
3 / 5 Stars

‘Blowfly’ (184 pp) was published in 1984 by Star Books (UK). The artist who provided the cover art, among the most striking produced in the era of the 'Paperbacks from Hell', is, unfortunately, uncredited.

As the novel opens, it’s summer, and a heat wave lies upon the pastoral village of Widecombe in Devon, England. Farmer Roy Lambert has noticed that the heat has triggered an increase in the population of a decidedly unpleasant type of blowfly. Unlike the ‘normal’ flies he is accustomed to, these newcomers are larger, and much more aggressive in laying their eggs on the bodies of dead or dying animals.

For young entomologist Ian Wilde, now working for the Ministry of Agriculture and touring the farms of the Devon area, the blowflies call to mind the species he had encountered while working in the tropics for the World Health Organization. Wilde is puzzled that such flies should be found in the English countryside. But his puzzlement soon turns to alarm as reports come in of the blowflies swarming people. Although the flies are unable to bite, Wilde is stunned to learn that the flies deposit their eggs onto their reluctant hosts, leading to infestation of the skin with writhing maggots…………

With frightening rapidity the bucolic landscape of Widecombe turns into a danger zone as the parasitic flies grow in number and boldness. Emergency measures are undertaken to coat the village with insecticides. But as Ian Wilde is to discover, the flies are by no means content to seek their victims only in the Devon area………

I finished ‘Blowfly’ thinking that it’s a competent, if not particularly imaginative, ‘bugs on the loose’ horror novel. Its premise is a bit more believable than those of the novels by Richard Lewis (The Black Horde aka Devil’s Coach-Horse, Spiders) with similar themes. 

Like those novels, the plot of 'Blowfly', which takes its time developing, is given spurts of momentum via the use of vignettes of grue and gore, in this case through circumstances in which hapless victims find themselves under attack by swarms of the repulsive flies. 

Author Loman doesn’t pass up the opportunity to revel in descriptions of swellings and boils being sliced upon to discharge squirming, hungry maggots, so the novel certainly satisfies in that regard.

The verdict ? ‘Blowfly’ is one of the better novels in its sub-genre; if that appeals to you, then getting a copy could be worth your while.

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