Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Destroyer


Andrew Hickey Destroyer (2017)
I may be getting my wires crossed, but I somehow developed the impression of Destroyer having been written as something akin to a warm-up exercise, and from what I recall of since deleted blog posts, Andrew Hickey appeared to regard his forthcoming Basilisk Murders as a more significant undertaking. Destroyer is a whole brace of toes dipped into the thriller genre, a form with which I'm almost completely unfamiliar - and ordinarily not actually that interested - but which I'd probably prefer to term mystery because it reminds me of the Georges Simenon novel I read a month or so ago.

Essentially it's breezy wartime scrapes as Ian Fleming, Dennis Wheatley, Alan Turing, and Aleister Crowley attempt to defeat an occult plot to deliver victory into the paws of those ghastly Germans; so it's highly stylised and possibly ludicrous given the cast, and yet Hickey achieves a perfect balance in all respects with characters obedient to the strictures of the genre whilst remaining unburdened by anything much in the way of clich├ęs. This isn't tweedpunk, or whatever clueless arseholes might be calling it this week. Crowley has turned up in fiction, particularly of the sort I tend to read, with some frequency, often as a fairly generic force of indecency, and rarely ever as anything which I've found particularly satisfying. I have my doubts about the man but tend to think he deserves at least a little better than he's generally been given, so it's a pleasure to read of him in Destroyer as a character at least as rounded and intriguing as he seems to have been in life.

As a thriller, Destroyer is brief and well paced, and arguably lacking any great philosophical purpose, which nevertheless doesn't mean it lacks depth or that it isn't capable of throwing out a vivid idea or two every couple of pages.

'Indeed,' said Wheatley, 'and so we can never discover the answer to the question is Baldur real?, and nor should we want to, for it would spoil the mystery of life. But we can have an answer to the simpler question does Baldur represent something real?, and the answer to that question is of course an emphatic yes! for all true religion contains within it a kernel of truth.

As for flaws, it's genuinely quite difficult to find any. The entirely masculine cast is a bit odd, but as Andrew explained on his blog back in May:

One thing I should note about this, because many of my readers will care - every character in this book is male. I thought long and hard about doing that, and the nature of the genre it's pastiching would make it even more problematic to actually include anyone of another gender. I understand if this puts readers off, but want you to understand that it was a choice I thought about and didn't take lightly.

I spotted some typos and a couple of incongruous instances of repetition, most likely inevitable given that the author was probably writing four other books and recording an album simultaneous to the composition of this one; but given that Destroyer seems to be something Andrew Hickey wrote as an exercise in the spirit of experimentation, and that it's not even a particularly ambitious effort, one can't help but notice how even workmanlike Hickey is considerably better than the great majority of authors firing on all four cylinders. Destroyer is a modest but nonetheless impressive effort which promises much for whatever the next one turns out to be.

Avail thineself of a copy yonder, or Amazon if you want the eBook or the (significantly cheaper) paperback. I'm not going to provide a link because I'm sure you can find Amazon under your own steam, and because they support Breitbart, and because they happily stock a wide range of shite by white nationalists, much to the delight of those leaving antisemitic comments in praise of said books, which I only mention because I want to marry my boyfriend Barack Obama and I hate freedom of speech etc. etc.

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