Beyond Here Lies Nothing (The Concrete Grove Trilogy) – Gary McMahon (Solaris Books)
Marc Price arrives in the Concrete Grove to research a book about the “Northumberland Poltergeist,” an infamous case from the 1970s: twins haunted by a spirit they nicknamed Captain Clickety. The media of the time were split between derision and hysteria. As Marc teases out the suppressed details of the story, he finds himself drawn to a woman whose young daughter went missing years ago during a spate of child abductions. He also finds himself investigated by a local policeman, whose private life seems tied up with events in the Grove, and harassed by the Father of the missing child.
Then the scarecrows appear, their hears plastered with photographs of the long-missing and the dead. Hummingbirds flock to certain areas of the estate, as if awaiting the arrival of something… A door has been opened and a presence is about to step through. It is up to Marc to put the ghosts to rest and unravel fact from fiction. He is about to discover that the story he seeks is his own, and only he can plot the ending.
This is the third part of a trilogy and as I’m new to the series, I’ll do my best to rise to the occasion. As a stand alone story it’s surprisingly (un)easy to read, and the Northumberland setting lends itself well to the atmosphere needed for such a dark piece of writing, McMahon has done a superb job of making sure that all the points that need to be known (as far as I can tell) from ‘Beyond Here Lies Nothing’s’ predecessors are covered by passing comments between characters, and as such don’t have any real bearing on the events of the novel . Character focus is absolutely central to McMahon’s writing style and they shine, even when the event’s being described are not only massive in scale, but are also deep, beautifully constructed and incredibly well written. Dark, very creepy and genuinely disturbing, ‘Beyond Here Lies Nothing’ is very much in the vein of a more modern take on a very classic ‘Hitchcock’ style horror story and I’ll definitely pick up the two novels in the series and read them as they should be in the order they should be read, which means I’ll have to re-read ‘Beyond Here Lies Nothing’. Must be my lucky day…Gav