What a great book! Love the way it is structured like a song. There were moments I has to go back and read sections again.... just to confirm. It's not for the faint hearted, and It's not for people who want a really easy read (not that it's difficult either, but it does require some brain power and plenty of imagination). Each verse and each chorus provides the right amount of descriptive language for your imagination to work out the rest. If you like a good thriller and you want to move away from the same old classic detective-led crime, then definitely give this a go!
There's a timely line towards the end of this novel where one of the narrators muses that all the images he'd imagined were drawn from films and TV dramas. And yes most of the set scenarios will be reminding you of a million man-gone-mad killer on the run movies with all the clichés employed to keep you gripped.
This resonates loudly in a story so chock full of depraved shock tactics stirred with almost every known vice from gambling, to pornography, to adultery, vicious murder, drugs, prison life and a dash of cannibalism for good measure. Tick them off and a quite a few more, they're all there. If you like your read - or your movies - to be brash and extreme, dive in.
In parts, Cross County Murder Song is an attempt at a Tarantino killfest. The big difference is that whereas Tarantino injects wry humour, wit and an emotional bond with his characters there's barely a chuckle or a care to be raised in the extremes of Wilding's prose. To be fair there are lengthy attempts at a back story as we weave from past to present between the two narrators. They both have misplaced childhoods and a cross to bear and Wilding tries valiantly to draw them in, but all too soon he's racing off to get another vice ticked off to as a means to explain their inner damage. It becomes all too soulless. The occasionally clever structure of narrating each story, italicised chapter after straight font chapter, still leaves the reader a confused by its intention and its relevance. Then a few forced connections expose the contriteness.
Philip Wilding is a capable writer but sadly there's too much imagery excitement to leave you with any real connection and therefore to truly appreciate the shock and awe that's unfolding before you. He is though a writer to be watched and it wouldn't be a surprise to see him elevated to acclaimed movie screenplay writer or even better, an acclaimed author rising out of assumed cult status low-fi aspirations.
It's been a few years now since I read this but it's a fantastic book and it deserves to be a top seller! Loved it, great writing and imagery and reminds me of all those magical American stories like Stone Junction.
Many books are very enjoyable, but "run of the mill". A meets B, something happens, A deals with it along the way, and then A comes out of it in the end. What I term a good book with suspense but a "no brainer". This book is completely different. As the Guardian says, sophisticated writing. Lots of twists, turns, threads, but still one common "thread" running through the book, the driver. But dont be fooled, its not just "man sits in car, drives across America killing people". Oh no! Much darker, more intriguing, and much more thought provoking. There are so many nuances within the book, subtle jokes, the dark inner workings slowly eeked out about the driver to you the reader, that you slowly build up the picture about what the man is more than who the man is. This has to be THE book of the year. I hope the authors second book is published soon.
This book had me absolutely gripped from the word 'Go'. The style of writing and use of language is brilliantly unorthodox and innovative. Every second i was reading this book was well worth my time and it has shot right up with many of my favourite books of all time. The characters are well thought out and completely original and all the imagery used is well timed and appropriately descriptive. The format strikes me as somehwat Trainspotting and A Clockwork Orange-esque and these are two of my favourite books, so that gives this book an edge for me. Overall a completely un-put-downable book, I look forward to seeing how Philip Wilding develops as an author. Brilliant writer. Best book of the year.