As the horror world mourns James Herbert's death, relive five of his most nightmarish plotlines

The sad death of horror writer James Herbert has seen the author hailed as 'one of the giants of popular fiction'.

Herbert, 69, shifted more than 54 million books after penning his first horror classic 'The Rats' in 1974.

His writing was influential in the horror genre and four of his book were turned in films.

Here Yahoo! News recounts five of Herbert's most nightmarish visions which left readers entranced and terrified at the same time.

THE RATS (1974)

Herbert's first book describes a hellish London scene where hordes of giant rats overrun the capital, killing men, women and children in an increasingly terrifying plague.

The novel opens with a vagrant resting in an abandoned lock-keeper's canalside house, only for for him to be set upon and eaten alive by a pack of rats.

Increasingly vicious rat attacks then take place across London - with the pack of large 'dog-sized' rats now flanked with packs of smaller rodents who daringly assault Tube passengers and schools.

The attacks are unprovoked, and even those who survive die 24 hours later from a strange disease which infects the victims.

The petrified public eventually hatch a plan to infect the rats with a virus which is injected into puppies left to be attacked.

Although this kills many of the rats, some become immune to the virus, becoming stronger and eventually overrunning London Zoo.

The hero of book, an art teacher called Harris, tracks down the source of the rats at the book's climax and kills their leader - a giant, white, obese rat with two heads.

In the book's epilogue, however, the one surviving rodent gives birth to a new litter - including a new white rat.

THE FOG (1975)

In a small rural village, Department of the Environment worker John Holman investigates a Ministry of Defence base.

But when Holman and his car are suddenly swallowed up by an unexpected earthquake, a fog is released which had been trapped underground for years.

Related: Horror author James Herbert dies aged 69

Holman emerges from the earthquake, but has been turned insane by the mysterious fog.

The fog spreads and shifts seemingly with a mind of its own, turning anyone who comes into contact with it homocidal, suicidal, or worse.

Students sexually assault and mutiliate their teachers before turning on each other, and in cities 'mass copulation and insane slaying spread'.


One of Herbert's later novels, which was converted into a BBC three-part series last year, follows Gabe and Eve Caleigh and their three children in London.

Their domestic bliss is shattered when their son Cameron suddently goes missing, and when 11 months later Gabe is offered a job on the coast, the family move away for a fresh start.

The house they move to, Crickley Hall, appears welcoming enough, but strange things soon start to unfold.

In the words of Herbert, 'cellar doors creak open of their own accord, unseen children are heard crying in the night and water seeps through impervious rock'.

At the same time, the couple's children are troubled by visions of a terrifying ghostly spectre who wields a cane.

Soon after Eve hears her missing son's voice for the first time, when he says he is alive - and that the children can tell her where he is.

The suspense is cranked up as Eve is torn between finding out the truth about her son and seeing her children consumed by terror.

'48 (1996)

Set in a dystopian post-War London, the book tells how Adolf Hitler unleashed a deadly biological weapon on London moments before defeat, which wiped out all but a handful of the capital's population.

Hitler had fired V2 missiles at London which wiped out the human race with Blood Death - a gruesome disease where blood pours from every orifice - or Slow Death, which weakens victims over a much longer period.

Only those with AB blood type escape the hideous fate, including American pilot Eugene Nathaniel Hoke, who is stranded on the streets alone in the grim apocalyptic environment.

Hoke is chased through London by a group of slowly-dying Fascist 'Blackshirts', who want to save their leader by using Hoke in a blood transfusion.


A devastating plane crash near the town of Eton claims the lives of 300 passengers and crew, but amazingly, pilot David Keller walks away unscathed.

His survival is seen as a freakish miracle, until investigations reveal that there is no way he could have possibly made it from the plane alive.

As Keller - who says he has amnesia - tries to piece together the cause of the crash, the townspeople begin to view him with suspicion, and events take a turn for the worse.

Residents in Eton begin to drop dead in mysterious circumstances - from a local shopkeeper who suffers a heart attack by the river to a couple who fall to their death from a bedroom window.

It emerges that the vengeful spirits of the plane passengers are stalking the townspeople of Eton, as the book reaches its chilling climax.