Book review: The Beresford by Will Carver

Leave your comfort zone. Will Carver has a dark imagination in which creepy thrills and body counts are dialled to the max. The Beresford is a standalone thriller published in 2021. Bizarre, gripping and grotesque but drawn in smooth prose that will keep both the pages and your stomach turning.

The Beresford was old. It was grand. It evolved with the people who inhabited its rooms and apartments. It was dark and elephantine and it breathed with its people. Paint peeled and there were cracks in places. It was bricks and mortar and plaster and wood. And it was alive.

The ageless Mrs May runs a boarding house in a grand old building. She rarely leaves the premises. The rooms are large and the rent cheap and there are a steady stream of inhabitants. Mrs May passes her days drinking cold black coffee and wine, tending her garden and doing her prayers.

What is that one thing you would give up your soul for?

Tenants come with dreams of a new life, then go, sometimes at an alarming rate, and usually in pieces. Sixty seconds after one dies, a new tenant arrives, and so the cycle continues, a bit like Groundhog Day with gore.

The Beresford was a halfway house for the disenchanted and disenfranchised, whose focus was to become. To be. To discover and make their impact. The inhabitants were not necessarily the outsiders, but were certainly the ones found on the periphery. The wallflowers at society’s ball. They were outside. They floated on the periphery.

Dark and twisted with black humour and skilled plotting drawn in short snappy chapters. The story is intermingled with Carver’s existential ruminations about life, death, humanity, religion, and more that send the reader off on introspective reflections on 21st century life.

We all go a little mad sometimes.

As with Carver’s other novels I have reviewed on this blog – Good Samaritans, Nothing Important Happened Here Today and Hinton Hollow Death Trip, The Beresford will enthralled and disgust you, it will also make you think.

Book review: The Outsider by Stephen King

Stephen King has published 63 novels, but The Outsider, a horror/crime fiction novel is the first one I have read. If you want to frighten yourself, this could be the book for you. One hot night whilst absorbed in the story I had to get up and close and lock all the doors after I started to get spooked. As it turns out I needn’t have bothered because the thing that had frightened me could have gotten in if it wanted to, doors locked or not.

‘Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.’

A young boy is abducted and brutally murdered in Flint City. A witness saw the local little league coach, English teacher and father of two girls drive him off in a white van, another saw him emerge from where the body was found covered in blood, a third saw him dump the van and drive away in another car…Detective Ralph Anderson swoops in mid game to arrest Terry Maitland in front of the kids, parents and Terry’s own family — the man had coached Ralph’s son as well and he’s outraged. Soon Anderson has DNA evidence and fingerprints as well — a quick resolution to a sordid tale. Or is it?

There was one rock-hard fact, as unassailable as gravity: a man could not be in two places at the same time.

Terry Maitland has an alibi. He was also caught on video, and his fingerprints found at a conference in another town when the murder was taking place.

Enter stage left, eccentric private investigator Holly Gibney to help Anderson get to the truth. I loved the character of Holly – she’s extraordinary in her ordinariness. She’s on the Autism spectrum, obsessive-compulsive and has sensory processing issues. She’s extremely intelligent and observant but her awkward, self deprecating, uncertainty make her uncomfortable in her own skin and self-conscious around others. Yet she is brave and can be relied on in a crisis.

Themes include justice triumphs over evil, loss of innocence, identity, belief and disbelief. I don’t usually read horror, but it would be fair to say the crime element and the character of Holly were major factors that kept me glued to The Outsider at every chance I got – devouring it hungrily till the end.