This book describes itself as ‘a sickly-disturbing, darkly-comic thriller’. There was much evidence of the disturbing element but very little of the comic. The utter implausibility of much of the plot detracts from the tension of the events – at times Wells seems to write himself into a corner and then performs a complex and unsupported narrative leap to get himself out of it.
More worrying than the structural flaws are the scenes of graphic violence and the sociopathic nature of the schoolboy protagonist, John Cleaver – yes, really! – who longs to be a serial killer, conveniently lives and works in a mortuary run by his mother and his aunt, and is obsessed by a series of mysterious and brutal killings in his home town.
He discovers that they have been committed by a seemingly innocuous elderly neighbour who metamorphoses into a killing demon in order to harvest the organs he needs to regenerate his failing body. This scenario offers plenty of scope for extreme violence and no apparent thought for the incredulity of its readers – especially when John decides to release his long-suppressed inner demons in order to be able to kill his quarry.
This is gratuitous violence wrapped up in psychological jargon which takes itself far too seriously and thrusts highly-coloured and fevered fiction into impressionable minds.