Having also read Richard Godwin's Apostle Rising very recently, I arrived at the soon-to-be-released Mr. Glamour in what I term the "Godwin mindset"; essentially, primed for a police procedural with significant elements of fairly graphic psychological and visceral horror. I wasn't disappointed.
First, though, allow me to dispense with a couple of negatives: the brave new world of independent authors is plagued with what I consider shoddy or inadequate presentation, whereby simple formatting and proofreading, let alone deeper line editing and grammatical issues, are either given a cursory glance or dispensed with altogether. Unfortunately, independent publishers can also find themselves beset with similar problems. While Mr. Glamour improves on Apostle Rising in that regard (in the latter, a pub named The Crooked Key inexplicably becomes The Crooked Fork in one scene), there still remain those irritating typos and misused homophones (cheap/cheep, horde/hoard) that take you immediately out of the narrative. While these issues are not the train wreck endemic to a certain percentage of indie authors, they remain a distraction, albeit one significantly improved upon in the interim between Godwin's two novels.
So, the even better news? Godwin's writing has grown tighter. Don't get me wrong; I enjoyed Apostle Rising, but there were a few flabby sections and the occasional lack of focus. In truth, the novel could have been shorter. Not so Mr. Glamour—which, in its way, is every bit as nasty and sadistic as its predecessor, yet more honed, with much of the fat sliced away. Godwin has sharpened his storytelling edges from those of a well-stropped straight razor to something more akin to the fabled samurai sword that can slice a human hair lengthways. Perhaps that is overselling it, but the relentlessness of the narrative has improved markedly from something that was very good in the first place. At this rate, Godwin has a Silence of the Lambs in him.
Sharing the male/female dynamic of the cop team with his debut, Mr. Glamour takes more twists and turns with the psychology of the killer this time. And not only the killer: these particular examples of the law enforcement side of the equation—Flare and Steele in place of Castle and Stone (could there be a message or clue in their very names?)—are themselves every bit as nuanced and flawed as their adversaries. Okay, perhaps not quite as flawed, but still...
I mentioned sadism earlier, which in the context of such novels is by no means a negative criticism; and this particular sadism is earned every step of the way by the twisted pathology of the antagonist. While not lingering so long on the scenes of literal torture this time around, Godwin has managed to make that leap to the less-is-more school of horror. Again, he doesn't flinch, but he also refuses to leave the camera running throughout, so to speak. Yet the horror doesn't suffer one bit. No, the victims suffer, and so do we the readers, as we find ourselves inside their tormented heads more often.
In short, Godwin has once more created a seamless hybrid of crime and horror novel while retaining some of the dark lyricism, ramping up the atrocities, and tightening both the noose and the narrative, an altogether impressive achievement.
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