Novel set in Victorian Birmingham
A thriller of filth and purity – set in the UK
8th October 2018
Good Samaritans by Will Carver, a thriller of filth and purity – set in the UK.
This is not one for chemophobes. Two bodies are discovered scattered across Warwickshire, bound in plastic wrapping, and cleaned to the hilt (that’s a euphemism for the extent and penetration of the cleaning process that has taken place) with bleach. The perpetrator is clearly washing away impurities, bleaching the personalities from the victims. Is a serial killer at work?
We meet Seth, married to Maeve, who is an insomniac. During the fitful nights he rings people at random from a specially compiled list of names. People with the surname Taylor are the ones who prove most non-compliant, apparently. Essentially he is looking for a random meet up with any individual who will chat to him. Maeve sits back, watches and waits (she watches and sleeps through a lot of TV programmes) actually aware of what he is doing, but she is a loving and tolerant wife and is seemingly not really bothered by his habit. Many aspects of Seth’s life make him feel dirty, both psychologically and emotionally. He is a staunch supporter of women and in particular his wife, no-one should be disrespectful.
A crossed telephone line happens to connect him with Hadley Serf, who has psychological problems of her own, who feeds her terrible and dirty sense of self with self harm and one night stands. She is hoping to hook up with a trained Samaritan at the end of the phone, and Seth just happens fortuitously to engage with her.
Ant is a real life Samaritan. He has come to this line of work after a friend, with whom he was travelling, seemingly caused his own death through auto erotic hanging. He has never recovered from his friend’s death and in order to feel in control he is obsessive compulsive about cleanliness and order (in this way he can keep control over his life). Hadley phones The Samaritans only to discover that Seth doesn’t seem to work there, but at the same time rousing Ant’s interest in her. He is by nature, he feels, a rescuer.
DS Pace is the police officer who has to fit all the pieces together. He too, at times, feels he is dirty. He tries to keep the exact details of the state in which the bodies are found a secret but the news soon leaks out…
As I write, I am actually thinking, what a crazy yet somehow engaging premise for a book (now someone is going to point out that the novel was based on a true case!). There is something about the pulsating short chapters and the good writing that kept me hooked, with a nice twist at the end. There is a lot of psychological winnowing, reliant on the Kleinian theory of “splitting” – people are good and bad; there is purity versus filth, black as opposed to white, clean and dirty…. There are also a lot of disparate drives that cause sexual stimulus for the characters.
So, if a combination of killing, sex and a whodunnit with a dark and quirky heart is your thing, this would be a very good choice.
Location, in terms of TripFiction is not strong, although Warwickshire gets a bit of a look in.
Tina for the TripFiction Team
The digital book is out now, the paperback comes out November 2018. You can buy your copy here
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