Published by Orion Books on 14th April 2011.
£18.99 Hardback £12.99 Trade Paperback
I have been a big fan of Steve Mosby’s books for a long time and just wish there were more of them, or a back catalogue of undiscovered novels someone would unearth. But, I just have to accept that the guy is a lot younger than me and what is currently not there in quantity is more than made up for in a very dark quality.
Black Flowers, though not as nasty as some of his previous books (a possible development since recent fatherhood I wonder), remains another dark entry to the Mosby canon and, if justice is to be done. this one deserves to push his profile significantly forward.
This is not a story about a little girl who disappears.
This is the story of a little girl who comes back.
If the two liner above doesn’t grab you, then I defy anyone to get past the first one and half pages of this novel and close the book – you won’t be able to. Set up as a dream-like scenario with the Black Flower being a fictional book within the book and the tale of a little girl who returns, of writers who are seemingly repeating events through their fiction that may or may not be based on a truth, this novel stayed with me every hour I was reading it, even when the book was closed or I was attempting sleep.
It’s a book that I found troubling, but in a good way, in the same way that Andrew Pyper’s Lost Girls also gave me sleepless nights – a book that has added value for all the moments in between, when you’re not reading it, but you’re still thinking of it.
The central character is a writer, Neil Dawson, who is seeking out why his father has committed suicide. Steve Mosby has a cop character within the story but, as is the case with all of his books, they never stray into standard Police procedurals, they are always different, always fresher – even if that means that the cop in this novel, Hannah Price, finds herself with a map of possible murder sites and a bloodied hammer, and the thought that her father might have been a killer.
Neil Dawson’s character has also written a book within this book and I doubt it’s without intention that the theme of his book, the taking of a loved one by a wish to a Goblin King, is similar to events in the movie Labyrinth, as the plot within Black Flowers is exactly that, Labyrinthine. The plot is so multi-layered and intricate that, in many ways, it forms a flower of its own, with individual stories and timeframes meeting and overlapping each other but creating a perfect form in their conjunction. It will keep you guessing, it will have you wondering but, above all, it will have you gripped reading it right until the last page.
This isn’t so much ‘a dream within a dream’ as a nightmare within a nightmare with its continual mirrored reflections between fiction and reality, meta-fiction and a sometimes obscure tone that feels like it’s fallen from a David Lynch movie like Mullholland Drive. How he managed to weave such a dream-like quality and still know where he was going with all the strands I will never know.
My advice would be to get a copy in readiness for one of those bank holiday days that are looming and devour it in one go – if you break it down over several nights, as I did, be prepared for restless night’s whilst your mind tries to fill in the blanks.
A really spooky, dark and gripping read – just what we’ve come to expect from Mr Mosby, but I think he’s raised the bar with this one as I couldn’t stop thinking about the book even whilst I was supposed to be doing other things (like working…).
Just hope it’s not too long a wait for the next one.
You can find out more about Steve and his books at: http://www.theleftroom.co.uk or catch up with him at this years Harrogate Crime Writing Festival: Full details of events and to make your booking can be found at: http://www.harrogate-festival.org.uk/crime