Blood and guts. Guts and blood. General death, destruction and gore at every turn. And needless to say, a totally unputdownable read.
Men, women, scores of children – cats, for goodness sake – no one and nothing is left unscathed or goes unpunished in this very visceral, heart-in-mouth-inducing thriller. That it was inspired by the true-life story of the Rostov Ripper, convicted of and executed for 52 murders, is hardly reassuring as you set off on this literary adventure, and by the end of the book you do feel as though you have verbally witnessed enough violence for a reading lifetime. Now I find out that this is the first of a trilogy detailing the ongoing and chilling journey of Leo and his erstwhile wife Raisa – will I have the stomach for more?
Tom Rob Smith comments that he “wanted to write a book that was as exciting as the (television series) ‘24’, a page-turner in the way that show is compulsive”, and he succeeds in delivering a tense, atmospheric and suspenseful cliffhanger. The bloodshed is undiluted, so not certain to be able to summon up the courage for the film which has just come out here, although maybe knowing who is about to get sliced up next will be a help? Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace and Gary Oldman would of course be three other good reasons to toughen up and sit nervously in front the big screen, watch this space.
Read in April 2015.
Rating : a knuckle-dusting, nail-biting 9/10
Shortlisted for the Costa First Award 2008, Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2008, Galaxy National Book Award for Best New Writer 2008, Barry Award for Best First Novel 2009, et al…