Computer Scientist Ariel Panek finds himself in heavy fog in a taxi making for a hotel on the Suffolk coast. He is desperate to send a message for his student waiting in Europe; he is due to go to a conference and hopes to arrange a dirty weekend with her but he has no mobile phone (cell phone) or wi fi connectivity.
The hotel is old fashioned. He still can't get connected and the kitchen is closed. So is the bar but in the residents' lounge he meets the Border family, a strange assortment of weirdos, drinking cocktails. Leonard the father is trying to arrange a business consortium and wants Ari to invest. Wheelchair bound Margot tries to connect with him by talking about quantum entanglement. Rob the son hides behind the curtain playing computer games. Ari definitely fancies Olivia the teenage daughter. Then anorexic Gretchen arrives with a mobile phone that actually works; she proceeds to dismantle it and use it to gouge a wound into her arm. Slowly, the situation becomes worse and worse and Ari finds himself trapped with these strange people, the games they are playing, and the lies they are telling.
A Hammer novel, this book is meant as a horror to be written in a single setting. As such it failed on both counts for me. There was also too much made of the difference between the quantum world and the classical world; as an ex-Physics teacher I think I understood most of this but I doubt the average reader would find this more than geek-padding. But what really makes this book stand out as a classic was the brilliant dialogue. Every character is driven by their own internal logic and every utterance they make conforms to this. But rarely does a whole conversation make sense. So you are trying to decipher what is happening to these people (and it keeps you guessing almost to the very end) and what the hell is going on. As such it is beautifully crafted and absolutely gripping.
DBC Pierre also wrote the brilliant if equally quirky Booker-prize-winning Vernon God Little. August 2015; 248 pages
- Having reviewed over 1100 books on this blog, I have now written one myself. Motherdarling is a story about a search for a missing Will which reveals long-hidden family secrets. It is available on Kindle through Amazon. Read it and find out whether this critic can write. I live in Canterbury, England. I lived for more than thirty years in Bedford. Having retired from teaching; I became a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Liminality. I achieved my PhD in 2019. I am now properly retired. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. Follow me on twitter: @daja57