Calum MacLeod is a reporter for the Inverness Courier and had been writing for SHOTS since its early days. In 2009 the Highland and Islands Media Awards' judging panel awarded him “Highly Commended Feature Writer of the Year”.
Part thriller, part science-fiction, part philosophical discourse and pretty much all bonkers, Guy Booth’s novel begins by referencing a murder case involving 200 mutilated teenage murder victims (male by way of a change), then proceeds to go over the top like a WWI Tommy with rocket boosters.
With realism pretty much out the window by the second paragraph, we soon join our well connected book dealer narrator as, at the behest of a Government mandarin who really pulls the strings at Westminster, he is whisked off to the funeral of a former client, the eponymous Arthur Moreau.
It’s a funeral which, like Moreau’s private life, might have been considered scandalous by your average Roman emperor, but this is just the jumping off point for an adventure which takes in the south of France, the Swiss Alps and Morocco’s Atlas Mountains which hide massive secret installations populated by hundreds or thousands of pretty young men who are, like my old Action Man, not quite anatomically correct.
With its global conspiracy threatening the future of all mankind (yes, old Nazis are involved), satirical swipes and body horror – try not to squirm when the origins of those men is unveiled — it reads like Clive Barker, J.G. Ballard and Will Self got together to try and write a Bond movie. Only while very, very drunk.
The world of Arthur Moreau is one set slightly parallel to ours, one hint of this being a 20th century setting, but a female US President. Maybe that is a ploy to make it easier to accept the surrealism/silliness of the tale, but if so it does not entirely work. Still, the brisk pace and the question of what Booth’s fevered imagination will come up with next might just be enough to propel you through the novel’s relatively modest 230 pages.
Just don’t come to it expecting anything conventional in the slightest.