The Danes—the band known as the “Darlings of Detroit”—are washed up and desperate for inspiration, eager to once again have a number one hit. That is, until an agent from the US Army approaches them. Will they travel to an African desert and track down the source of a mysterious and malevolent sound? Under the guidance of their front man, Philip Tonka, the Danes embark on a harrowing journey through the scorching desert—a trip that takes Tonka into the heart of an ominous and twisted conspiracy.
Meanwhile, in a nondescript Midwestern hospital, a nurse named Ellen tends to a patient recovering from a near-fatal accident. The circumstances that led to his injuries are mysterious—and his body heals at a remarkable rate. Ellen will do the impossible for this enigmatic patient, who reveals more about his accident with each passing day.
Part Heart of Darkness, part Lost, Josh Malerman’s breathtaking new novel plunges us into the depths of psychological horror, where you can’t always believe everything you hear.
This book was, in a word, strange. The plot bordered on hokey: a ‘60s era rock band become special ops soldiers on a mission to an African desert? I can suspend my disbelief only so far.
I couldn’t get down with the weird framing of the musical characters in the book, and though it was set in the ‘60s, the setting usually felt pretty ambiguous.
However, Malerman is a creator, and he is a great source of sensory horror. I commend him for his variety; I’ve read Bird Box, Unbury Carol, and Black Mad Wheel, and absolutely none of them have been regurgitations of the same spooky-ooky material. His genre-bending stories are mysterious and genuinely creative.
The book embedded in me a deep desire and curiosity to find out what happened in the desert, what the mysterious source of noise was, and as I read, the enigmatic suspense and strange happenings continues to get stronger and stranger. If you can get past the slightly silly context, the story is genuinely compelling and creepy. Black Mad Wheel is a definitely book for the curious.