The Lonely Hunter
by John Grant
Review by Mario Guslandi
PS Publishing Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781848632066
Date: 01 April 2012
The prolific and eclectic John Grant (aka Paul Barnett) defines his latest work The Lonely Hunter as a slipstream novella. Maybe so. To me, however, the story appears to be a kind of psychological mystery or, if you prefer, an atypical whodunit where discovering the assassin is perhaps less important than understanding the complex, subtle motivations surrounding the event.
But never mind the labels. What really matters is the quality of the book and here we have an intense narrative and an enticing plot where fiction (intended as the job of writing) and real life are strongly entwined.
The incipit is downright gripping: What happened was that there was a murder. The victim was a cheating husband and the murderer was the wife he was cheating. The plot, in fact, revolves around the very suspicious death by accident of a famous writer, David, loved by two women (Natalie and Annette). Another writer, Emil, discovers the truth behind the successful work of David, who turns out to be a former alcoholic whose brain is no longer functioning as well as it appears to those outside his narrow entourage.
After the writerís death, Emil falls for his widow and starts a new life and a literary joint venture with her. But, once again, things are not what they seem to be and other, more elusive truths will be revealed only at a later time.
The novella also features an actual detective who right from the outset suspects foul play, although unable to prove anything for sure.
Grant skilfully shuffles his cards and muddies the waters throughout the novella , playing with the readersí credulity and leading them on the wrong track. He controls and handles his characters as an expert puppeteer, thus producing a memorable book where love, hate, seduction, and ambition blend in a powerful, intoxicating cocktail.
Fans of detective stories will find Grantís elegant and efficacious prose and his insightful approach a refreshing change. Lovers of good mainstream fiction will enjoy the aura of intriguing mystery enveloping a superbly told human affair. Either way, highly recommended.