Aspects of a Psychopath
(Telos Publishing, £8.00, 103 pages, paperback, published December
Or, it could be possibly subtitled: The Secret Diary of a Twentysomething
With, I presume, lashings of inspiration from Bret Easton Ellis (American
Psycho) and John McNaughton (Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer),
debut novella offers no psychological insight into the mind of such
a person; it is merely highlighting the ordinary and hum-drum existence
of a young man whose waking days are punctuated with the occasional
bout of ultra-violence and murder.
Personally, the diary format of the book did not work for me--the events
described therein held too much detail for the reader to believe that
what happened had happened in the past; dialogue was remembered verbatim,
murders recalled in perfect detail. For me, such an approach should
be consigned to a more typical prose novella.
But did the book work as a horror tale? There was certainly no subtlety--the
reader was told in all its gore and glory; guts and blood were described
in unflinching detail. It was splatterifically splatterpunk--in your
face, without any hint of the quaintness of, say, MR James.
Despite the fact that this is entirely fiction, there were occasionally
lapses of incredulous behaviour--even for a psychopath. He revelled
in his evasion of the police, and yet you ask yourself how he evaded
for so long? Even when he murdered a young child whilst on a foreign
holiday, surely the Spanish police aren't that inept? The protagonist
waltzed out of the country without a care--great for the story, but
Characterisation was kept to the bare minimum, with your typical central
casting and one-dimensional stereotypes, except--as you would expect--for
the protagonist, into whom Langston did manage to inject a personality.
With all this in mind, and considering it was a first book, I expect
to hear more of Alistair Langston. It was an enjoyable (if enjoyable
is the right word) read, in a pulp 80s horror novel way (think Shaun
Hutson), but if--as the title may suggest--you're after a more cerebral
experience, then look elsewhere.