Anthony Neil Smith’s debut novel Psychosomatic was released earlier this year for Kindle and what a debut it was.
The book has a plot that drives forward like a tank with broken steering, crushing everything in its path. It has great dialogue and the interplay between characters really sparkles.
As a starting point, we come across Lydia, a foxy lady with no arms and no legs. She wants to gain revenge on her husband for having sex with a younger woman in front of her. It’s not the unfaithfulness which upset her, rather the fact that they turned her on and left her without satisfying her needs. She employs the local thug, Cap, to beat up her husband, but he finds out about it and turns to Alan Crabtree, a small time crook, to film the fake beating he’s managed to organise.
During the fake beating the camera rolls, Cap takes things to far and kills Lydia’s husband. While they clean things up, Crabtree kills Cap during a moment of madness and then returns to Lydia to explain.
Unfortunately for Crabtree he’s in a tough spot with Terry and Lancaster, the car thieves from whom he bought his car. Lydia offers him a way out and at the same time manages to take over his body and mind.
This is only the beginning.
What happens next is a fizzing plot, driven by the needs of this crazy bunch of characters Smith sets against each other.
There’s planing and counter-planning, guessing and second-guessing and ignoring every bit of logic they’re capable of.
Crabtree and Lancaster become crazed killers, Terry and Lydia pulling at the stings with all their might. They head to the airport for a final showdown and I guarantee that you’ll get a buzz from the way it all plays out.
To my mind it’s as if Smith has taken the main characters, thrown them in a blender and pressed the button for a minute. He’s opened the lid, added a beautiful woman dressed as a nurse and pressed the button for another while.
The lives of these people may be chaos, but the writer never loses control. He’s always there as an invisible hand crafting the scenes and the dialogue to make sure there’s not an ounce of fat left to trim.
Fast-paced, stylish and brutal, it’s an absolute must for any fans of crime-fiction.
An absolutely ridiculous bargain at 69p from:
or $1:13 at:
Warning: This book will have your Kindle smoking – do not throw water over it after downloading.