Whether it's Celtic myths of changelings or Hollywood films about body snatchers, society has always been terrified by the prospect of our friends and loved ones being secretly infiltrated by something uncanny and malevolent. In his debut novel, Stephen Lloyd Jones taps into that reservoir of anxiety with a story of a long-lived Hungarian shape-shifter named Jakab, part of an ancient shadow society known as hosszú életek. Psychotic and romantically obsessive, he terrorizes several generations of women descended from a lover who spurned him.
Jones cycles through time, tracing Jakab's carnage from the late 19th century through the 20th, and into the present day. He doles out his narrative revelations with patience, turning over his cards deliberately like a well-trained casino dealer. At a certain point, the ''Surprise, it's me!'' shocks begin to lose their punch but not before they manage to send a few shivers up your spine. B+