You’ve been watching the house across the road from your little Skoda for a while now; what the hell is going on over there? The man that you presume lives there has been acting very oddly for a few weeks now. Yesterday he came home with several bags filled with what looked like bottles of bleach. Maybe he’s just a germaphobe about to give the house a damn good scrubbing? Whilst you eat the last chunk of your chocolate bar his car appears out of nowhere, pulling up abruptly in his drive. Wiping a chocolatey dribble from your chin, you watch as the man sits there in the driver’s seat for a few minutes before getting out and popping the boot open. It’s dark now and you struggle to see what he is getting out of the boot, but it looks like a large roll of…carpet? It’s definitely cylindrical and about the size of…a human? No, don’t be silly, that stuff only happens in movies or in badly written book reviews. Still, you watch as the man struggles to keep a grip of the object, taking photos on your phone’s camera. Suddenly the man’s feet give way from underneath him and he falls to the ground, dropping the object onto the floor. He swears loudly as it rolls away from him. He manages to grab one end, but that only causes the object to unravel towards your car. You watch in horror as the object unfurls before you, but instead of a body inside you see, writing? Surely you are mistaken, but what appears to be inside the object is far more disturbing than a body.
It is…. a blurb.
One crossed wire, three dead bodies and six bottles of bleach
Seth Beauman can’t sleep. He stays up late, calling strangers from his phonebook, hoping to make a connection, while his wife, Maeve, sleeps upstairs. A crossed wire finds a suicidal Hadley Serf on the phone to Seth, thinking she is talking to The Samaritans.
But a seemingly harmless, late-night hobby turns into something more for Seth and for Hadley, and soon their late-night talks are turning into day-time meet-ups. And then this dysfunctional love story turns into something altogether darker, when Seth brings Hadley home…
And someone is watching…
Dark, sexy, dangerous and wildly readable, Good Samaritans marks the scorching return of one of crime fiction’s most exceptional voices.
Is it just me or does the tag line for Good Samaritans sound a bit like a well known Christmas song:
One crossed wire, three dead bodies, six bottles of bleach and a partridge in a pear treeeeeeeeee!
Or is it some sort of weird and fudged up shopping list?
*shop bell tinkles*
“Hello shopkeep. Could I please have one crossed wire – yes, just the one. Yes I know it’s hard to cross just the one wire. Shut up! Six bottles of bleach – yes six, what’s it to you? No, no I’m not getting rid of a body…ha ha…why, why would you think that? ha ha, you shopkeeper, you are a funny guy. Um, oh and three dead bodies, please….Oh, bugger.”
I imagine that would raise more than a couple of eyebrows if you were to have that conversation in your local corner shop. Also, I would look to shop elsewhere if the shopkeeper there could raise more than a couple of eyebrows. Just sayin’.
Now, I use a fair bit of bleach in my day job, but not for anything more nefarious than cleaning up after a rat dissection or for making chlorine water for an A-Level chemistry practical.
I’ve also seen a lot of dead bodies in a previous job as a hospital A&E porter. None of them were cleaned in bleach beforehand mind, just your regular soap and water, though there was usually the faint whiff of it wafting about the mortuary (along with the occasional tapping noises from the fridges and the faint cries of ‘let me out’. No, not really. They were scratching.).
As for crossed wires, well I’ve had plenty of those in my time, but then again who hasn’t? I even had an actual phone crossed wire once, back when telephones still had wires; that was an odd experience.
So, where does all of this fit into Will Carver’s exceptionally brilliant Good Samaritans, I hear you ask? Well dear reader, my trusty, patient Beardy Blog Fans, read on and you may find out.
You see I say may find out because when I sat down to write this review I encountered a problem. Not a bad problem per se, but it was still a problem what with me being a reviewer and all that.
I’ll start with two words:
How…what…how can…where do I…
Seriously, Mr. Carver, how am I supposed to review this book? Huh?
How am I supposed to review a book where you really shouldn’t say anything about the plot for fear of spoiling the jaw dropping surprises within, hmm? Thank goodness for the cushioning effect of my beard because my jaw would be very sore indeed from all of the times it has hit the floor reading your book.
How am I supposed to tell people about the wonderfully dark story, the beautifully drawn, but disturbing characters, the sharp dialogue and challenging themes contained in this book without ruining it for the reader, eh?
How am I supposed to review a book that made me gasp out loud, throw the book onto the table, roll my eyes many times and utter the phrase FFS out loud in a public place on more than one occasion? Huh? You tell me!
I’ve read many books in my short, but oh so long, 47 years on this planet, and since I started reviewing for this blog back in February I don’t think I’ve come across a book that I have found so utterly, if not impossible, to review.
That’s your fault that is, William Carver.
Don’t come running to me whining that all the reviews are so short and full of vagueness. You’ve brought this upon yourself, you have.
So ner. *pokes tongue out emoji*
So what can I say about this wonderfully irritating (not irritating) book?
Let’s try starting with the characters. I think I’m safe there.
There are four main characters in Good Samaritans:
Seth – male; insomniac; computer salesperson; spends his nights calling up strangers looking to chat and chew the nighttime cud with anyone willing to listen, which isn’t very many people at all; constantly rebuffed by said strangers he calls at all hours.
Maeve: female; wife of Seth; wine drinker; frustrated by Seth’s nighttime proclivities; enjoys angering him by slamming the front door when she leaves early for work.
Hadley Serf – female; bizarrely monikered; lost; suicidal; calls the Samaritans only to unknowingly get a crossed line to Seth which changes her life forever.
Ant – male; digital converter of ancient paper texts (he scans documents into computers, basically); Samaritan volunteer; gets call from Hadley looking for Seth who she mistakenly thinks answered her call there; becomes a teeny, tiny bit obsessed with Seth and Hadley; creep; stalker.
And on the periphery we have:
Detective Sergeant Pace – male; detective; sergeant; object of Maeve’s…affections?; miserable sod.
Detective Sergeant Pace is a shadow.
Detective Sergeant Pace is paranoia.
Detective Sergeant Pace is losing.
See? Cheerful chappie. Just the kind of guy you’d want to be stuck in a lift with. Or the ideal dinner guest. 😉
And that is pretty much all I am going to say about the story and characters here. But that doesn’t mean that you can leave just yet. I have more to say about the book in general, so put your feet up, grab a drink, and hunker down for more thoughts:
So, what else can I say about this book that won’t give anything away?
Well, I loved it. I truly did.
Make no mistake, this is one dark, dark book. It begins in the grimmest of fashions and it never really relents:
‘It doesn’t get you clean. Not that much bleach. Sure, there are face creams that you can buy that will help with dry skin or dark patches left from overexposure to sunlight and they’re clinically proven to help. But it’s a trace amount. And, for those suffering with eczema, a bleach bath may be recommended. Your dermatologist will tell you that the bleach can significantly decrease the infection of Staphylococcus aureus, a bacterium prevalent in those who are plagued by this skin condition. Still, it is recommended to use no more than half a cup of bleach in one half-filled bath of water. Because it won’t make your skin sparkle like it does your toilet basin. It will burn. It will blister. You will bleed. It will hurt like hell. Unless you’re already dead. It’s the moment before that hurts like hell. That drowning sensation you can sometimes experience when somebody much stronger than you forces their weight down against your windpipe. It’s the gasping for air that will hurt, not the bleach. And then there’s that weird buzzing in your ears as you die, and your face is discolouring, which makes it easier for coroners to determine the cause of death, though the compression marks on your neck are a huge giveaway. And the way your eyes are now protruding. They won’t know for sure about your tingling muscles or vertigo, and the bleach will take care of the blood that came out of your ears and nose.’
Now that’s how you start a book!
But don’t fear, there are moments of black humour to alleviate the darkness that permeates our characters lives:
‘I wanted a limoncello with ice and water. But there was no ice in the freezer. And I’ve never bought limoncello in my life. So I settled for the water. With a little whisky.’
With its short chapters and shifting perspectives (the story is told in both 3rd and 1st person narratives, but this never gets confusing), the story insinuates itself into your brain and will linger long after you’ve turned over the final page and wiped the sweat from your brow.
It has more twists and turns than an orgy of snakes; the plot writhing about, constantly changing what you think you know and then slapping you hard in the face with the wet kipper of surprise.
Oh, and this book is naughty. Like, full on top shelf naughty. This book should probably be sold in a brown paper bag.
Oh, my word toffees *fans self emoji*
Will does not hold back in his descriptions of the sexy shenanigans that go on between his characters. Crikey and indeed crumbs, there were many times where I felt I had to stop reading, light up a cigarette and follow it with a cold shower. And I don’t even smoke. Or like cold showers. Much flustering did ensue. Karen Sullivan (the Queenest of Bees at Orenda Books and Wielder of the Red Pen), told me that the unedited manuscript was even raunchier. I am now going to make it my life’s mission to accost Will and to read this unedited version. Purely in the interests of…..er…..the interests of…..um…..something?
But none of this naughtiness is gratuitous or just there to titillate (well, maybe just a little titillating; there may have been an underwear change at least once). Yes it is graphic, so if you are easily offended, or of a prudish mind, you may want to skip past those parts.
The promotional blurb for this book makes a big thing of the fact that Will Carver has Returned! It “sees [his] scorching return” and “He’s BACK!” Honestly, I didn’t even know he’d been away. I genuinely thought that this was his debut novel. Will also, it turns out, writes a series featuring a detective by the brilliant name of January David, currently standing at 3 books. How has this guy slipped through the net? I shall be checking those out tooty sweety. 👌
Sexiness and Swedish Erotica levels of naughtiness aside, what you have with Good Samaritans is a tightly plotted, wonderfully written, darker than a coal mine in a power cut story of trust, misplaced trust, deceit and the dangers that can come with the power that one can hold over a vulnerable individual. It is the darkest of psychological domestic noir; utterly gripping and compelling and, just like the smell of bleach, Good Samaritans will linger in your literary nose long after you have finished it.
As such, I am delighted to announce that Good Samaritans receives the inaugural (and possibly only):
Good Samaritans is out NOW in cellulose based paperback and electronic book:
About young William:
Will Carver is the international bestselling author of the January David series (Arrow). He spent his early years in Germany, but returned to the UK at age 11, when his sporting career took off. He turned down a professional rugby contract to study theatre and television at King Alfred’s, Winchester, where he set up a successful theatre company. He currently runs his own fitness and nutrition company, while working on his next thriller. He lives in Reading with his two children.
My heartfelt thanks and salutations to Karen Sullivan (Orenda Books), Anne Cater (Random Things Through My Letterbox) and of course Will Carver for allowing me to shout about this book for the blog tour. Check out all of the other awesome bloggers on the tour for more reviews, guest posts and most excellent content.