Night after Night by Phil Rickman

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Night after Night by Phil Rickman

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Luke Marlowe
Reviewed by Luke Marlowe
Summary: Phil Rickman has created a thrilling, funny and creepy tale, that picks up from a slow start and races towards a chilling climax.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 528 Date: October 2014
Publisher: Corvus Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9780857898692

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It's no surprise that when it comes to reality television, broadcasters are fighting amongst themselves for the next big thing, no matter how tasteless, base, or exploitative it may be. That's the starting point for Phil Rickman's creepy new thriller, as tv producer Leo Defford decides to launch a reality show in a mansion formerly owned by tragically deceased movie star Trinity Ansell and perhaps haunted by Henry VIII's last wife, Katherine Parr.

Defford collects a group of celebrities together - some believers in the paranormal, some sceptics, and films them in the 'haunted' house.

The programme name? 'Big Other'...

It's an interesting concept - we've already had a paranormal 'Big Brother' in Charlie Brooker's excellent tv series 'Dead Set', and Ben Elton wrote a thriller based around Big Brother in 'Dead Famous'.

This excels by not focusing fully on the events in the house, but instead on the investigation into the house's past, and into the pasts of the contestants. Investigator Grayle is really very likeable, and as she finds out more about both the history of the house, and the secrets that the contestants hold, the pace picks up, and I was genuinely rather gripped.

I did find the start slightly heavy going - it took a while to really get started. In addition to that, I would have liked to have read a bit more about Catherine Parr - a woman who, despite being as interesting and as tragic as the rest of Henry VIII's wives, seems to be constantly overlooked.

However, the characters are really very vivid - so much so that it was hard not to picture real celebrities when reading. Cindy certainly comes across like a calmer cross between Grayson Perry, Helen a Jennie Bond type etc. And 'Big Other' feels very much like something that could happen - given that Channel 4 commissioned a show called 'Sex Box' last year, 'Big Other' would seem almost tame.

I'm not sure if I'd call this a 'Crime' novel, as it seems to have been categorised by the publisher. There is an investigation of sorts, but I really think this falls into the thriller category - it's a dark, creepy read that is perfect for the longer nights, and I was staying up far past midnight in order to finish it.

Many thanks to the publishers for the copy. We also have a review of December by Phil Rickman.

Continuing the theme of spooky Halloween reads, it's tough to do it better than the late, great, James Herbert. Ash by James Herbert has a similar basis to Night after Night, with an investigator in a haunted house, but any of Herbert's books are worth a read - provided you're ready for a sleepless night...

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