LAST RITES by John Humphries


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A mysterious phone call leads to a world of complications in Welsh journalist Humphries’ first work of fiction, which reads at various times like a supernatural thriller, a murder mystery, a World War II novel, a tale of international intrigue, and a study of obscure European history.

Journalist Jack Flynt—who apparently lives in the present day yet works for the long-defunct International News Service—is startled by a woman on his phone crying “Help! He’s trying to kill me,” especially since the phone is an antique that hasn’t been connected for decades. When the message keeps recurring, Flynt begins an investigation that draws him toward a group of World War II criminals who’ve been secretly living on an island off the Brittany coast. If that weren’t enough, he is also drawn into an obscure territorial dispute between the French and the indigenous Bretons. He discovers that his ex-wife is dead, and seems oddly unmoved by that—and is also able to move freely between countries after being pegged as a murder suspect. The story contains numerous red herrings, briefly settling into a conventional murder-mystery plot at midpoint. While the various threads are tied together at the end, and an explanation for the phone calls is provided, the story is at times barely comprehensible, and the historical threads need clearer explanation than they get.

With too much going on at once, the book never really decides on a narrative, much less a genre.

Pub Date: Feb. 15th, 2017
ISBN: 978-1-78461-253-5
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Y Lolfa/Dufour
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 2016


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