William Meikle (b. 1958) is a prolific Scottish author of fantasy, science-fiction and horror short-stories and novels. He has created a number of series titles like Augustus Seton, Carnacki, and The Midnight Eye Files. Beginning in 2011, Meikle has authored seven Sherlock Holmes novels. I’ve read a number of Meikle’s horror novels, including The Hole. It was originally published in 2013 by Dark Fuse and now exists as an ebook and audio download through Crossroad Press.
The Hole concerns a large sinkhole that suddenly appears in a small rural town. From this deep recess is a piercing hum that begins to affect the town in different ways - nose bleeds, horrific visions, paranoia, etc. The two main characters, the town’s sheriff and doctor, begin interviewing and medically treating their town’s residents. But, when the hole begins to expand it’s up to these professionals to evacuate the town. What is the hole and what are the strange creatures climbing from its depths?
William Meikle delivers a taught, fast paced thrill ride with The Hole. The novel isn't a far cry from the formula concocted by the horror greats long ago. The sleepy setting is like many cookie cutter fictional towns plagued by paperback terrors. Meikle provides an average cast of characters who are placed in extraordinary circumstances to see how they react. It's the crime-noir logic that Stephen King has used for decades, the obligatory road map for authors to attack small towns with their horrifying creations. Meikle utilizes this horror trope remarkably well. His characters are admirable, genuine, and the reader has no recourse other than to care deeply about their fates.
While the story itself is traditional, leaning on Lovecraft's "Old Ones", The Hole really excels in the pacing, a crucial element that seems to be lacking in fiction regardless of genre. The shorter length is a blessing compared to the 500+ page hardbacks that currently dominate the industry. Once this demonic chasm opens, the story unfolds quickly with a frantic pace that never becomes trapped in the details. Houses are swallowed, people are devoured and a small piece of the reader's nerves are crumbled like the outer edges of this small town. Meikle wraps it all up in a tight package that thrives in the darkest recesses, yet shines as another outstanding entry for this talented storyteller.