Matthew Stokoe follows up his visceral novel Cows with this brilliant yet graphic crime thriller. I came across Cows on the recommendation of a friend who claimed to have found the most shocking novel I would ever read. It quite possibly is one of the most visceral books in existance, impossible to enjoy but also impossible to put down. High Life is just as gruesome with regards to sex and violence but it is a far superior tale to it's predecessor. The book is told from the point of view of Jack, a nobody who moves to Hollywood to pursue his dreams of working in the film industry. Instead he finds himself living amongst the sleazy criminal underbelly of Los Angeles whilst at the same time investigating the murder of his wife, a hooker he had recently married.
I can't think of many other authors who would think to include drugs, prostitution, murder and blackmail in the same book as tramp torture and illegal organ harvesting but Stokoe isn't a typical author. If you can look past the stomach churning excesses of High Life it is an excellent, well written crime thriller.
This must rate as one of the most oustanding of modern horror thrillers. Horror, not as in the traditional horror genre, but is in horrifying. Despite the occasionally unsavoury subject matter of Stokoe's writing, this is a rollercoaster ride in terms of plot tension and excitement mixed with terrifying and gratuitous situations. Stokoe's imagination is unlimited in its ferocious approach to fiction. Outrageous moments flash out of nowhere and leave the reader breathless with terror and surprise. In the midst of all this is a complex tale of real mystery and suspense. It's a great story apart from anything, its just that when the added gut churning aspects are thrown in the book becomes a triumph of lewd and degrading twists.
What I like about this book is that the descriptions make the vile acts so realistic that you can almost taste the scene. It depicts human nature at its worst and most depraved. Maybe it shows how people really are in certain industries. The only part I sort of cringed a lot at was when Jack had to hang onto a guy while a cop cut him open and pulled out his entrails. I am not sure why it was the most shocking part. But it felt very very real. There are a lot of little trinkets of wisdom amongst these pages and some funny lines too. I wont give any spoilers cos this book is well worth reading. It is well written with excellent descriptions. I will be interested to read the author's new book when it comes out. I only have the last one left and I am going to savour that in the hope he finishes the new one soon.