Friday, 2 August 2013

ONE LOST SUMMER by Richard Godwin - a review

Rex Allen loves star quality in women. He moves into a new house in a heat wave with few possessions apart from two photographs of his dead daughter. His next door neighbour, beautiful Evangeline Glass invites him over to one of her many summer parties, where he meets her friends and possessive husband Harry. Rex feels he knows Evangeline intimately. He starts to spy on her and becomes convinced she is someone other than who she pretends to be. When he discovers she has a lover, he blackmails her into playing a game of identity that ends in disaster.
'Everything I knew ended then as she put the Dunhill to her lips. I can still see her slender fingertips holding the cigarette lighter just before the sniper blew away her hand.'
ONE LOST SUMMER begins benignly enough. Rex moves into a house in the suburbs. He is invited to a party next door by his beautiful neighbour, Evangeline - a sex-bomb of a woman reminiscent of the glory days of old Hollywood. In fact, Rex is reminiscent of that era too. Think Ronald Coleman and Katherine Hepburn and you get some sort of idea.
It doesn't take long before Rex becomes completely obsessed with Evangeline. And like all obsessives worthy of the name, he secretly films her every waking moment and then blackmailing her. But Evangeline is not the only beautiful woman gracing the empty corridors of Rex's rapidly fragmenting mind. What of Coral? Who is she? What is she? And why is her fate so tied up with Evangeline?
Such is the nature of Godwin's prose, the reader becomes seduced into seeing the world through Rex's eyes - his obsessions and his fears, his confusion and his pain. Like all Godwin's writing, the experience can be both stunning and disturbing in equal measure. The prose is simple and poetic and perfect, and under the glaring sun of this one lost summer, utterly mesmerising.  In a review of the book, Paul Brazill called ONE LOST SUMMER - 'a sweltering, intense, noir'. And he's bang on. Every line in the book is suffused with the heat of that lost summer, creating an incredibly visceral experience.

When the tragic, violent truth is revealed, you realise what a great writer Godwin is. All those little clues. All those clever turns of phrase. All are there, pointing the way. 
ONE LOST SUMMER is about the nature of identity - the nature of who we are, what defines us. If you can, as a reader, retain your own sense of self whilst reading this book whilst all around are losing theirs, you are a better man than I.

ONE LOST SUMMER is available in paperback from Amazon UK, Amazon US, or direct from the publisher - Black Jackal Books
More information on Richard Godwin can be found on his website

1 comment:

  1. Agreed, Ian. this novel oozes summer sun and haze, maybe cicadas buzzing and ice cold drinks sitting in puddles of condensation. Clues? Yep there plenty and one of the biggest right up front: the name of the protagonist. A departure in style for Richard but a welcome expression of the man's ability to work in whatever format he chooses. I'd call this flawless. Yeah, that's a good word.