Today I’m sharing my thoughts on the brand new standalone thriller from Chris Brookmyre, The Cut. I really enjoy the author’s Jack Parlabane series and was looking forward to this brand new offering so am grateful to publisher Little Brown Book Group for the advance copy. Here’s what it’s all about:
About the Book
The entertaining, moving, and unpredictable new thriller from multi-award-winning bestseller Chris Brookmyre is a wholly original masterpiece and the best crime novel of 2021.
Millie Spark can kill anyone.
A special effects make-up artist, her talent is to create realistic scenes of bloody violence.
Then, one day, she wakes to find her lover dead in her bed.
Twenty-five years later, her sentence for murder served, Millicent is ready to give up on her broken life – until she meets troubled film student and reluctant petty thief Jerry.
Together, they begin to discover that all was not what it seemed on that fateful night . . . and someone doesn’t want them to find out why.
Oh I really enjoyed this book. On the surface it is the story of Millicent, a woman who went to prison for a crime she very likely may not have committed, and Jerry, her housemate and the person who is going to help her prove her innocence. But at what cost? A thriller in every sense of the word, the story has secrets, tension, conspiracy, a constant sense of threat and the beauty of taking readers into the world of classic horror and the Italian Horror movie scene, something which appealed strongly to the dark side of my literary soul. When you read a line stating that Jerry was nine when he first watched Zombie Flesh Eaters, and you know that you can just swap the double Rs for double Ns and be talking about yourself, you know the book is speaking your language. Except I think I might have been six or seven … Meh.
I loved the way in which Chris Brookmyre developed the friendship between Millicent and Jerry. They should have little in common – Millicent a seventy something former jailbird and Jerry, a nineteen year old university student – but given Jerry’s fascination with movies, especially old horror titles, and Millicent’s former career as a horror makeup specialist, perhaps it is a match made in heaven after all.
When we first meet Millicent she is a woman who seems to have given up, bewildered by her surroundings and struggling to adjust to life on the outside after a long spell of incarceration. There is clearly a spark about her – she is not simply a timid old granny figure – but she is weary and ready to give up. It takes a chance discovery to reignite the spark and the grit and determination that is really at her core. As for Jerry, he is a character trying to atone for a mistake in his past. Raised by his Gran, he is far from perfect, and his past does come to haunt him but he does become a bit of a hero in this piece, and convincingly so. I like them both, was happy to go on the epic journey with them, dipping in and out of Millicent’s past and the events that led up to the fateful night that changed everything. I wanted them to come good, to discover the truth. I wanted them to kick ass, and my god did they.
This book takes readers on a real journey. Cover ups, conspiracy and secrets which could make or break the many varied and colourful characters we meet. There is a constant feeling of authenticity to the story, to the hedonistic lifestyle of the principal players from Millicent’s past, and the act of playing voyeur into their world kept me glued to the page. This is not a high action thriller, it is much more intelligent than that, even though there are moments of action, scenes that will have you on high alert and get the adrenalin pumping. And there are moments of quiet emotion, one that might not play exactly as you expect, but which truly fit the story and the characters within it.
This is another gripping and beautiful narrative from an author whose work I enjoy more and more with every read. I yes, I am a drawn to this book as it taps into the movies of my youth and the kinds of stories and movies that I grew up with. It explores some of the scandal attached to the horror industry, the perhaps unfair blame heaped at their door for some of the atrocities that were undertaken, allegedly as a result of people watching them, and the nature of censorship to control the genre. Even the last movie that Millicent made, Mancipium, becomes enshrined in scandal and legend, shadowed by a supposed curse linked to its makers and stars, just another indicator of how horror films were widely spurned, misunderstood and often feared. It also makes them kind of exciting and like catnip to horror aficionados so it’s not all bad.
I suppose that really everything about this story comes back to a question of control, and what people would do to maintain it. This is a very clever, fun, sometimes funny and totally engrossing thriller that I loved. 5 big shiny silver bullets from me.
About the Author
Chris Brookmyre was a journalist before becoming a full time novelist with the publication of QUITE UGLY ONE MORNING. Since writing A BIG BOY DID IT AND RAN AWAY he and his family decided to move away from Aberdeen and now live near Glasgow.