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The Book Club by Alan Baxter - a book review

I picked up “The book club” by Alan Baxter on the back of Sadie Hartmann’s recommendation, after reading (and loving) his recently released “The Gulp” (one to get, check out my review in my blog). Not knowing anything about the book, I went in blind, and I think that’s probably the best way to experience the book. The irony of writing a review about that experience is not lost on me, so stop reading now if you want to have the same experience.

Still with me? Then I have no guilt about the following – what starts off as a missing person thriller turns into a comic horror novel.

It’s really at about 50% of the way through the book, that it changes, morphs in your hands into something completely different than the thriller you thought you were reading. And that’s a great example of Baxter’s flexibility and writing capability. I was enjoying the thriller, but in the end, I wanted the cosmic horror. And I wanted the main character to die.

And that’s a weird thing to say, but it’s true. The main character is actually a decent enough person, his love for his wife drives the book, his relentlessness for the search for answers builds the reader’s empathy so that when we arrive at the turning point and start the journey toward cosmic horror, we realize that we need something to go wrong. That there can never be a happy ending to the story. There’s almost a correlation (at least with this reader) in the book club itself and ourselves, I don’t know when it happened, but at some point, some plan was born in my mind to “let the main character go”. And whilst the ending didn’t go exactly the way I anticipated, things went south pretty quickly.

Cosmic horror is very hard to do convincingly. I think Hailey Piper did a fair job in “The worm and his kings”, but apart from her and Lovecraft, I honestly don’t have much experience in the genre. The fundamental trouble of it is describing sensations and perceptions of something unknowable, untouchable, and imperceptible. Defining the indefinable. Baxter gives it his best shot, and I think he succeeds, he managed to convince me of the validity of the reality he created, and the monster it harbored, and the destruction said monster wrought.

But yeah. I needed him to die. Lol

It’s good, it something I wasn’t expecting, it was easy to read, short, fulfilling, and engaging. I believed in the MC, I believed in the detective. I think it’s too early for me to be able to draw conclusions about the progress of Alan’s work, but you can see how some of The gulp and “the fall” within it have their origins in this and perhaps other stories he wrote that I will read.

I think this is a solid 4 stars.

Alan Baxter on Twitter :


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