Debut author Masters offers a novel about a mysterious kidnapping in northern England.
When Steven Matthews wakes up in a small, damp room with boarded-up windows, he’s not exactly sure where he is or how he got there. He has a painful bump on his head, though, and it’s clear that he didn’t arrive in his current location under pleasant circumstances. What, if anything, does he recall? “Steve remembered being at home, it was Wednesday and he finally had two weeks off from work.” He rode his Honda VFR motorcycle to see his friend Chris and was pleased with the idea of spending time in England’s Lake District. But how did he wind up being held captive? Fortunately for Steve, all his initial escape requires is kicking the boards off the windows of his makeshift prison (“Cuban heels always come in handy for getting a good solid impact”). This proves, however, to be merely the beginning of his adventure, and it’s one with plenty of tension; there are also increasing allusions to occult phenomena at the heart of the mystery. What exactly does the strange man behind Steve’s kidnapping want, and what will happen if he manages to find it? The overall narrative isn’t quite a nonstop thrill ride; it’s overly descriptive in many areas, as when Steve, while considering a call to the police, wonders “if he should dial nine-nine-nine, but figured there was no immediate danger and so he opted for the non-emergency line.” Nevertheless, it’s adept at maintaining a sense of the otherworldly. The story moves speedily in its 200 pages, but although some portions, such as a rundown of Steve’s career (“being a kitchen and bathroom designer was challenging”) and a lengthy prologue concerning a family’s history in Zimbabwe, can distract from the main action, they never derail the story completely.
An occult thriller that creates a lasting sense of mystery, though it also contains some speed bumps.