THE HAUNTING OF JAMES HASTINGS
Orion Books £6.99 pbk
Released: July 8th 2010
Reviewer: Adam Colclough
|Adam Colclough lives and works in the West Midlands, he writes regularly for a number of websites, one day he will get round to writing a book for someone else to review.|
Hastings is a mess. A grief wracked widower drinking himself into
oblivion in LA, haunted, literally it seems, by memories of the accident
that killed his wife. The arrival in the neighbourhood of Annette, a
mysterious woman who seems to offer a solution to the unanswered
questions about his wife’s death only makes matters worse. Before long
James Hastings is fighting for his identity, his sanity and finally his
Christopher Ransom’s second novel blurs the line between reality and nightmares; the elements of a psychological thriller and those of a horror novel. The set up is similar to that of his confused, but best selling debut The Birthing House (2009), but the execution is altogether more assured and satisfying.
By shifting the setting of the novel between Los Angeles, a brutally lonely city for all its surface glamour and an abandoned housing development in Palm Springs Ransom is able to tap into the neuroses bubbling underneath the surface of communities and individuals that have removed themselves from reality to the point where they begin to fall apart. In James Hastings he has created a protagonist who is conflicted by the depth of his grief and the possibility that his former career as the ‘double’ of a paranoid rap star has made him in some way complicit in his wife’s death.
Although he may still be a couple of books away from delivering his best work Ransom already demonstrates an enviable knack for creating situations that are filled with an insidious sense of menace even when very little appears to actually be happening. If his third novel follows continues to follow the upward trend set by The Haunting of James Hastings reviewers may have to stop describing him as ‘the next Stephen King’ and start praising him for being the first Christopher Ransom.
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