The Seven Days of Peter Crumb (4 stars)

Jonny Glynn

The Seven Days of Peter Crumb (Portobello)

HORROR

(Photo: © Shami Gee)

You have to wonder, upon reading Jonny Glynn’s debut novel, whether his friends can still look at him in quite the same way. After all, within just 45 pages we’re already treated to a detailed description of two Bangladeshi women being savaged with a claw hammer. And another of a crackhead prostitute getting kicked to death in an alleyway. Not to suggest Glynn isn’t a nice chap of course, but you do have to question the mind of a man capable of imagining Peter Crumb.

Crumb (as you may have gathered) isn’t quite right. In fact, he’s fallen straight out of the nasty tree, and hit every sordid, murderous, drug-addled branch on the way down. It’s his last seven days on earth, and before he departs, he’s going to make a mess. Not only that, he’s going to jot down every detail for posterity. But then, Crumb’s not your average nut, and this is where Glynn excels. What initially appears to be a dirty, perverted down-and-out’s final mindless spree is revealed to be something much more complex: the last throws of a man once loving and loved, who’s been cracked by a violent episode years prior into two conflicting halves, one reflective, the other indiscriminately vengeful.

Their dialogue forms Crumb’s struggle, as Glynn strips him back to formula and decides which wins out. Sometimes it’s sad. Sometimes it’s funny. Moreover, it’s daringly discomforting, like American Psycho unleashed on middle England. This is not a creation you’ll want to turn your back on.

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