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by Adèle Hartley
With an opening chapter as deviously minded as its menacing killer, Redress very early on grabs the reader's assured sensibilities and shatters them with a catalogue of brutal violence. As the story begins we are swiftly introduced to Skirving, a deranged maniac who looks to be working his way through North America's singleton women - the problem being that they all very quickly fail to meet his high standards so need to be punished for their (often obsessively minor) failings.
The deception of the opening chapter continues as rather than simply following the mind of killer Skirving author Adèle Hartley then cleverly takes us on a ride that we know has a sense of inevitability but is one that we can neither avoid but also willingly succumb to as we are introduced to lead Cassie McCullen and follow her life from tomboyish childhood to alcohol fuelled womanhood as she pursues discovery and self fulfilment…all the while the plot intercut with Skirvings thoughts and actions as both individuals worlds get closer ready to collide.
Whilst on paper for some this may seem a pretty much straightforward thriller experience Redress is in fact a far more gratifying experience than most would have expected. This is far more than a pulp page turner, what Hartley has successfully delivered is a lead character in Cassie that is so believable you very soon commit to her dreams, fears and aspirations; which in turn leads to a growing sense of foreboding to the inevitable brutality of her clash with Skirving…importantly, who will live to see another day?
Especially so for a debut novel, author Hartley should be very much congratulated: her experience in the horror field (as long time director of the Dead By Dawn Horror Festival) shows clearly with some skilfully handled moments of palpable tension and extreme brutality which made even this hardened gore hound unsettled; her commitment and skill to develop the character of Cassie (and to a point killer Skirving) shows also clearly her capability as a rounded author making Redress one of the strongest horror debuts in quite some time.
Published by Burning House Books
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