Ginger Nuts of Horror
Elspeth Reeves’ comfortable London life has fallen apart: after losing her job, her boyfriend and her home she retreats to her parents’ house in Wilsby-Under Wychwood. However, the day she arrives a corpse is found in the wood, dressed as a character from the local folk tale of The Carrion King, and Elspeth gets involved in the investigation.
I have to confess a sense of disappointment when I realised I was reading a crime novel. I generally don’t enjoy crime fiction, and the initial setup here could have come from a how-to-structure-your-crime-novel manual.
While it’s structured as a traditional whodunit with a bunch of suspects, all of whom have secrets, it kept me gripped in a way that most mainstream crime doesn’t. The prose is consistently smooth and readable while the pace is expertly handled, starting with police standing around wondering what to do and escalating to a frantic race against time by the end. The mythology at the book’s heart is intriguing and even secondary characters are well realised.
I was reminded of the Michael Slade horror thrillers I used to enjoy in the eighties – Mann manages to spend time in the killer’s mind while maintaining the mystery until the end. Speculating is part of the fun of this kind of book.
A jolly, fast-moving and entertaining read, not shackled too much by genre clichés.