I was attracted to this book because of the title. Earlier this year I read a book by Donato Carrisi called The Hunter of the Dark which I enjoyed immensely. And somehow my instinct deemed the similarity of the titles a good omen!! The moral is to always trust your instincts!!
Set predominantly in contemporary Cambodia the main protagonist is Robert Grieve, an English schoolteacher, who spends his summers travelling and has just traveled from Thailand to Cambodia.
The book moves very languidly and lazily along with deceptively poetic descriptions of the physical beauty of Cambodia creating a discernible atmosphere. You can feel yourself getting hot and sticky from doing very little. There’s a lack of urgency from most of the characters, too. There was a sense of travelling towards something, undefined and not even physical, a kind of Heart of Darkness journey.
Deception is key within this novel, within both the plot structure and the narrative. The bulk of the book maintains Robert’s slow burning journey through the country and, almost listlessly though his life. He endures as a somewhat naive character seemingly unperturbed by any exigencies demanded of him. We are deceived and beguiled by the way the narrative appears to just meander along as if nothing much can or will happen.
In stark contrast is the primary antagonist of the tale, a corrupt policemen who serves as the catalyst to propel the latter stages of the book along with a Patricia Highsmith flavour that can finally allow the book to be described as a thriller.
Deceptive too because, if it is not a contradiction, this is a somewhat literary thriller, rich with philosophies and ideologies from several of the characters and a flowing, descriptive narrative too.
The characters are believable in their diverse rationales.
Lawrence Osborne is an experienced, competent author with an impressive knowledge of Asia. Whilst this is my first journey into his work I found the experience surprisingly compelling. Comparisons with Graham Greene seem to generously offered by other reviewers and I’ve already alluded to Conrad and a Patricia Highsmith yet my impression is that Mr. Osborne has a style all of his own. I am indebted to Nudge Books for the opportunity.