‘WE ARE ON THIS CASE LIKE A BONER FIDO BLOODHOUND…
AND MY MEN ARE BARKING AT THE LEASH’
In this darkly comic novel, Clifton Gentle is an ordinary man without much to distinguish him. Not much, that is, apart from being a serial killer who is leaving bits of his young male victims scattered around North London.
DCI Dave Hicks is the larger than life policeman determined to catch him. His attempts to find ‘the nutter’ through a combination of spoonerisms, personal abuse and a belief that something will turn up don’t go well. All that turns up are yet more body parts.
In a sleazy London dogged by growing squalor and an IRA bombing campaign in the last days of Margaret Thatcher’s premiership, the gruesome murders spur an over-the-top media and merchandising frenzy.
The hunt becomes an increasingly personal one and a race against the clock as Clifton, Dave Hicks, a would-be victim, and a copycat killer each try to uncover what – or who – they hold responsible for their own problems.
Two men, like chalk and cheese, and the only thing in common is the body parts that keep turning up around London. Because one of these men is a serial killer and the other is the police officer on his trail.
Clifford Gentle is a quiet man who lives alone and works in a mundane job. Little do his workmates know that he is the serial killer or ‘Cereal Killer’ as he becomes known (the book will explain), responsible for almost twenty murders and dismemberments.
Larger than life police officer DCI Dave Hicks is determined to catch ‘the nutter’ as he calls him. A huge man with a large beard, Hicks lives across the road from his mum, who still does all his cooking and cleaning. He loves his mum, almost as much as she loves him. She dotes on him and feeds him massive, unhealthy meals every day, which no doubt partly account for him being larger than life. Hicks also has a way with words, or probably doesn’t: ‘Everything fits in with my previous proboscis,’ he tells the press upon discovery of yet another body.
This book is at times gruesome and at times hilarious. It has all the makings of a great detective novel, plus Dave’s ridiculous spoonerisms, his ineptitude, very-un-PC banter from his co-workers and a philosophical killer. Because Clifford Gentle struggles with his life, his sexuality and frequently his motives. What he really needs is a hobby – other than chopping up his hapless victims.
You need to be prepared to be offended, disgusted and broad-minded in equal measures to enjoy this book (the humour made me wince at times), but this was written in the eighties about life in the eighties at the end of Thatcher’s government. And the ending is worth waiting for as the initial horror has smatterings of a farce, but you’ll have to wait till you get there to find out.
Many thanks to @zooloo2008 for inviting me to be part of this blog tour.
About the Author
Bryan J Mason wrote his black comedy about a serial killer in the late 1980s, but reluctantly put it away in a drawer after his agent narrowly failed to get it published. He concluded that he was a failed author, so might as well be a failure at something else instead. However, every ten years or so he dug it out and read it and each time he did was surprised to find that he still found it funny. He has now managed to get it published after making some changes, including firmly placing the action in the late ʼ80s and early ʼ90s for today’s reader.
He has worked as a brush salesman and rent collector, made sound effects for BBC Radio and been a tax inspector and occasional actor. He writes regular theatre reviews for StageTalk Magazine and Bristol 24/7. He is a member of the Crime Writers Association and currently working on a new novel featuring a Jewish detective investigating a series of serial killings in Northern Ireland during the Troubles, called An old Tin Can. Bryan lives in Bristol with his wife and has two children in their twenties.