Welcome to the continuing celebration of Steve Mosby Week here on Musings of an All Purpose Monkey. Today I’ll be whetting your appetite with mini-reviews of The Third Person, Cry For Help, and The Cutting Crew.
– The Third Person –
When people look back on their lives, they have a tendency to stick pins in at key moments along the line; little, coloured flags that point out the crucial moments. Every moment is crucial, of course – if you remove any single instant, your future falls away from your past – but I’m talking about the moments we choose to view as different.
– Jason Klein
When Jason Klein’s girlfriend, Amy, leaves him with no more explanation than a note stating she’ll be back at some point he initially chalks it up to ‘just another one of those things’ in his not too brilliant life and tries to move on.
But when she not only doesn’t come back but no word at all is forthcoming, Jason decides he has to know where she went. Looking for clues as to where she may have gone he investigates what Amy had been doing on her computer in the time leading up to her disappearance. What he finds takes him on a journey to the darkest corners of cyberspace.
It took about two minutes, and as the list of sites appeared in Graham’s makeshift navigation window I found myself staring, surprised, growing colder inside as each one was listed.
Part psychological thriller, part noir, with just a hint of a near-future setting, The Third Person dares the reader to look depravity in the eye without blinking. It’s powerful writing, especially for a debut novel, but it’s not for the squeamish.
– Cry For Help –
Police work had brought him into contact with a great deal of violent death, but in this case it wasn’t the assault that appalled him so much as the indignity and inhumanity of what had been done. And perhaps what hadn’t. – Detective Sam Currie
In Cry For Help author Steve Mosby poses a straightforward question which, depending upon your answer, has profound implications: How much do you really care about your friends and family? Do you care enough to go out of your way to check on them if you haven’t see them in a while, or would a quick email or text from them satisfy you?
It’s the latter the killer in Cry For Help relies on. Immobilizing people in their homes and leaving them to die of dehydration, he sends just enough texts and emails ‘from them’ to their friends and family to, theoretically, reassure people everything is fine.
The texts and emails offered a horrific insight into what had transpired in that time. They meant Alison’s killer had gained access to her mobile phone – her accounts and passwords – and that while she lay slowly dying, he’d been pretending to be her: keeping in touch where necessary; allaying any concerns.
With Cry For Help Mosby has taken what could have been a straightforward serial killer story and turned it into a philosophical reflection upon responsibility, both as individuals and as a society, and how much is required of us toward our fellow man.
– The Cutting Crew –
My guilt wasn’t in doubt, I thought, but all I could do now was keep moving and try to make it as right as possible. Responsibility doesn’t stop with guilt, after all. Even when you’ve fucked everything up, you can always make it worse for yourself by turning away. – Martin Weaver
The Cutting Crew is Steve Mosby’s most ambitious novel, and is certainly a challenge to wrap your arms around in terms of plot summary. In the broadest sense, The Cutting Crew is a detective noir tale of a fallen cop struggling for answers and redemption.
Originally part of a team attempting to solve the murder of an unidentified girl, Detective Martin Weaver’s world imploded after he and his fellow detectives failed to solve the crime… and his partner disappeared. The book opens with Weaver on the verge of committing an assassination, then spends the remainder of the story showing you what brought him to that point.
Perhaps the most compelling part of The Cutting Crew, however, is the city in which it takes place. Though not futuristic per se, it certainly is not one that exists on the same plane as the world as we know it. Divided into districts, each named after an animal (Wasp, Bull, etc.), the city is rumored to have been founded – and still run – by eight brothers who exercise an almost omnipotent control over everything that occurs in the city. Like any legend though, no one can quite pin down and verify the stories of the city’s history the residents grow up hearing.
What is known for sure is that the city pulses with an almost malevolent energy. Populated with crooked cops on the take from even more crooked politicians, all held together by a mafia underworld, the city is an incredibly dark, stifling presence. And the further the story progresses, the more the city itself takes over as the driving force, becoming an almost live creature:
…sometimes you only had to walk down the streets to start imagining them as veins and arteries, and on those occasions I often wondered if I could kneel down, press my hand to the pavement and feel the slow thud of the city’s pulse.
Coming Tomorrow: A review of Still Bleeding.