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Author of the Month

Name: Richard Godwin

First Novel: Apostle Rising

Most Recent Book: One Lost Summer

'After reading this book I’ll never look at my neighbours the same way again!'

Synopsis:
Rex Allen loves star quality in women. When he moves into a new house during a heat wave he has few possessions other than two photographs of his dead daughter. His neighbour – the beautiful Evangeline Glass invites him to one of her frequently held summer parties, where he meets her friends and possessive husband, Harry.

Rex feels as though he knows Evangeline intimately, so he starts watching her at every opportunity. Watching becomes spying and turns into an obsession as he convinces himself that she is someone other than the person she pretends to be.

When he discovers she has a lover, he blackmails her into playing a charade of identity which can only end badly.

Review:
Richard Godwin’s latest release is a dark and troubling novel which explores the twin themes of obsession and loss. The thematic nature of the novel is beautifully managed by Godwin’s ever steady hand and the way he portrays his character’s desires and motivations is nothing short of masterful.

Each of the main characters has a secret which gets exposed throughout the course of the novel. This drives the pace along nicely, as each revelation creates more tension and adds more drama to proceedings. Rex and Evangeline are great leads but for me it was the enigmatic Coral who shone the brightest.

While the prose is faultless throughout the novel, Godwin’s greatest skill is his mesmeric ability to write descriptive passages. He uses words with the same flair as an artist wields a brush. With every paragraph he paints pictures and manipulates emotions like a literary Rembrandt.

‘One Lost Summer’ may not be a crime novel in the truest sense of the term, but with blackmail, past secrets emerging and obsession all featuring strongly it deals with the same themes: just from a distinctly unique perspective.

All in all ‘One Lost Summer’ is a delightfully disturbing insight of what goes on behind closed doors. After reading this book I’ll never look at my neighbours the same way again!

Reviewed by: G.S.

CrimeSquad Rating



Questionnaire

1) Why did you choose crime as a background to your writing?
I have written in many styles, among them Bizarro and satire, but I am best known for my crime and horror fiction. One of the reasons I write about crime is because it is not clear cut. There are so many ways a normal person can slip over in committing a criminal act. That is a Noir issue. The characters in ‘One Lost Summer’ are not criminals, but they are corrupted.
2) Where did the idea for ‘One Last Summer’ come from?
Ideas are hard to trace. It may have to do with the lousy summer we had in England last year. ‘One Lost Summer’ is set in a heat wave with glorious descriptions of summer throughout. I was also thinking about the fact that we live in an age of surveillance. That watchfulness plays a big part in the novel as Rex Allen places his beautiful neighbour Evangeline Glass under his own form of surveillance.
3) ‘One Lost Summer’ deals with some very dark themes such as obsession, loss and blackmail. How did you research these topics?
Much research can be done by observing people!
4) With ‘One Lost Summer’ you really draw back the curtains and expose what may or may not go on behind the closed doors of middle-class suburbia. Does this come from a sense of voyeuristic inquisitiveness?
No. I think we live in a voyeuristic age, a theme I explored in ‘Mr. Glamour’.
5) Have you encountered anyone with the kind of strong obsession which possesses Rex?
You see them every day. I think humanity is an obsessive animal.
6) Your writing is pretty eclectic, yet there is a sense of darkness within each of the short stories and novels I’ve read. Is this deliberate or is it a by-product of your writing?
It’s to do with drawing a portrait. I think it is part of a chiaroscuro effect.
7) You are widely published in various short story anthologies as well as having three novels out. Which medium do you prefer writing, short stories or novels?
I like both forms. Short stories are quite different in structure and approach, but I also think writing both is a useful form of cross-fertilisation.
8) Your three novels to date have been standalones. Do you have any plans to write a series?
I am writing the sequel to ‘Apostle Rising’. That was my first novel, in which a serial killer is crucifying politicians, it did extremely well, selling foreign rights throughout Europe and continuing to do so.
9) What are you currently working on?
I have been contracted by an Italian publisher, Atlantis, to write a mini-series and a novel for Christmas. It takes place in various European cities, with an emphasis on the crime of each city and with a Noir feel. Both the series and novel will be published in English and Italian.
10) Which three crime novels have made a lasting impression on you?
There are so many. If I had to pick three I would say:

‘Heaven’s Prisoners’ by James Lee Burke for its sheer lyrical beauty and depth, Burke is the greatest stylist in crime fiction.

‘Freaky Deaky’ by Elmore Leonard for its brilliance as a story, Leonard is the most disciplined crime writer out there, never a loose line or indulgent passage.

‘The Friends Of Eddie Coyle’ by George V. Higgins for its seminal use of dialogue and ground-breaking approach.

And I must add a fourth, ‘Dead City’ by Shane Stevens, for its extreme reality by an author who is almost unknown.