Sunday, 25 January 2015

Review of 'Gatsby's Smile' by Morana Blue

This book was a pleasant little surprise I must say. It’s slightly unorthodox in the way that it goes about itself but that’s what I liked about it. It’s a psychological thriller in the true sense of the word. In many ways it feels as though the entire story happens between the ears of the central character, Morana ‘Moody’ Blue such is the claustrophobic nature of the narrative. The story doesn’t move around very much physically either which makes it feel as though it’s all being played out inside her head. She is a psychologist who works for the police and suffers from Dissociative Identity Disorder which makes her as unsure about what’s going on most of the time as you are as a reader.

There is a killer on the loose at an old folks’ home and as each body is found the vultures of suspicion circle slowly around Morana before taking a real interest in her and closing in for the kill. As she is unsure of whether she could be responsible or not you will find yourself every bit as confused as her colleagues, police officers ‘Happy’ Harry and ‘Handsome’ are. They are a little unwilling to think of her as a suspect, at first anyway, but get used to the idea as the circumstantial evidence builds and builds.

Initially you don’t want to contemplate that she is the one committing the murders either but as her inner turmoil becomes evident and her relationship with her childhood imaginary friend, Maro builds you are left with little choice but to open your mind to any number of strange and disturbing possibilities.

That’s where the fun begins. Once you discover that this is not just another police procedural but a genuinely strange and unsettling book you can settle back and enjoy the ride. There is some genuinely good writing and at times it really captured my imagination. The humour is dark and sometimes bleak. I liked that a lot as well. But sometimes it is beautiful and heartfelt too.

There is some real talent on show here and I can see this book doing very well. The character of Morana Blue is as complex, or maybe complicated would be a better word, as you will find and her struggles to make sense of herself are honest, painful and chaotic. A bit like real life really. She is maybe not someone you would want to spend the rest of your life with but she’s a lot of fun on the page. If you like things dark, pithy and intricate this will be a book for you.


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