|Beyond Belief by Mark Lingane|
|Reviewer: Ani Johnson|
|Summary: A partly comedic, partly SF/fantasy, entirely detective film noir genre-buster that gradually builds into something differently special, with a final twist to remember. Mark Lingane popped into Bookbag Towers to chat to us.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 284||Date: February 2013|
|Publisher: Insync Holdings|
|External links: Author's website|
Joshua Richards isn't the most successful PI; clients aren't exactly lining up around the block but he lives in hope that one day his luck will change… and it does. Within a couple of weeks he has a sudden plethora of enquirers; the bad news is that none of them seem to live long enough to pay him. Meanwhile elsewhere, the Engine powering the world (literally) is dying, although the populous is blissfully oblivious. Is there a connection? Joshua Richards doesn't know, but there seems to be a huge part of himself he's not acquainted with either… at least not yet.
Australian author Mark Lingane started writing Beyond Belief 17 years ago. In fact we wouldn't have seen it at all if Iain Broome hadn't encouraged him to finish it. We should all be grateful: this is a novel that would be wasted in a wardrobe. However it defies genre boundaries. If you asked me I'd suggest it's the lovechild of Douglas Adams' Dirk Gently and Raymond Chandler's Phillip Marlowe with a genetic twist of Kate Griffin's Matthew Swift; a genome that seems to work really well.
This mixture of normal and off-piste also seeps into the characters. Some are classic detective casting, like the femme fatale and those who may not be all they seem. There's also a side-kick; the comic shop assistant, computer geek and puppy-eager Damien is a perfect foil to Richards' world-weary ways. However there are also the unworldly deus ex-machina types who just cry out for a prequel.
At the beginning the language may not always flow seamlessly but don’t let this put you off. It's the sound of a car warming up and, once moving, it switches up a gear as we realise this is a classy ride. Its setting is decorated a shade of dark dystopia (although Madness tracks are still played) and the humour is just as black but hilariously so. A couple of jokes may miss the mark, but you're too busy revelling in the others to notice. For instance, I've never laughed so loudly at a morgue scene before. (You had to be there!)
Although humour plays a large part, it's not all for laughs. This is an author who can turn our emotions on and off at will. We're dragged to the edges of our seats in true thriller style alongside some beautiful passages (almost poetically so) that stop us in our tracks, encouraging an immediate re-reading. There's also more than the odd tear.
Joshua Robert's world is well constructed with some great footnotes providing background as well as a clever use of computer programming code. (Fear not – I'm no techie and even I understood its significance.) By the way, there is also a very clever moment when we see a copy of Mark Lingane's next book, the romance Chasing Heart, in the hands of someone in this book. Now that's original marketing!
We're entrusted with privileged information, having been told about the malfunctioning Engine and the ominous powers behind it before Joshua or his fellow inhabitants realise. In this way it doesn't matter if the Engine doesn't appear again till much later. We're aware of the miasma of menace behind this world and we can feel something apocalyptic brewing.
By the time I'd reached the end through some clever twists and turns, the final one being left for the last line (if you peek you're only cheating yourself as you'll miss out on so much), I was left with two wishes. The first is a wish to come across Joshua Richards again, the second being that I don't have to wait another 17 years to do so. Perhaps if we all ask nicely?
You can read more book reviews or buy Beyond Belief by Mark Lingane at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Beyond Belief by Mark Lingane at Amazon.com.
Mark Lingane was kind enough to be interviewed by Bookbag.
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