Wednesday 28 June 2017

BLOG TOUR: The Mayfly - James Hazel

I'm thrilled to be on the blog tour for The Mayfly, which is sure to be one of the most exciting books of the year.  Before we get on to my review, I have a fabulous guest piece from James Hazel about the films that inspired The Mayfly.

The films that inspired The Mayfly

Whilst I love crime fiction, I’m relatively late to the party. For most of my early life I was a passionate reader and watcher of psychological horror. It wasn’t particularly the gory slasher films that intrigued me; it was the supernatural, the unknown.

Unsurprising then that subtle elements of horror have crept into The Mayfly, although not without belittling its status as, fundamentally, a crime novel. Here’s a few of the films and TV shows that directly or indirectly influenced the shape of The Mayfly.

In Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, a film I watched at far too young an age, the everyday is suddenly turned into a nightmare. A seemingly benign part of our everyday background, the birds, suddenly take on an apparent collective consciousness and start working together to wage a war on mankind.

It struck me that this was real horror, a concept that utterly destroyed our intellectual trust with life. Hence the members of the House of Mayfly are the everyday. Towards the end, Priest reveals that the members comprised, “politicians, bankers, lawyers, coppers. Even a fucking geography teacher.”

The character of Priest was inspired by a whole mish-mash of heroes, from Sherlock Holmes to James Bond and Luther (the Volvo!). You could pick any decent film featuring the former two protagonists and find a little bit of Priest in there.

The final scenes are partially inspired by the strange happenings in Eyes Wide Shut, in which the main character, Dr Bill Harford, stumbles on a secret society practising a sexual ritual at a secluded mansion. 

There’s an obvious connection with Silence of the Lambs, as Priest’s brother, William, is a convicted serial killer incarcerated in a psychiatric hospital, although Dr William Priest has never admitted to eating any of his victims. The similarity with Hannibal Lecter is more to do with the interplay between William and Charlie, with the former acting as counsel to the latter in all matters gruesome and murderous, a bond that will develop in future Priest’s thrillers.

The Mayfly also features a German SS doctor, Kurt Schneider, who was responsible for experimenting on inmates at Buchwald concentration camp during the Holocaust. The novel raises questions about Nazi ideology and the nature of evil and I have to thank a host of films for inspiration, from the iconic Schindler’s List to the glorious technicolour romp in Indiana Jones and Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Readers will also note that Priest suffers from a form of dissociative disorder and this affects his perception of reality. At its most extreme, Priest has full-on out of body experiences and strange hallucinations and, in so doing, I am always reminded of the unreality brought to life in The Matrix. For more insight, some sufferers of depersonalisation disorder, a particular type of dissociative disorder, describe a feeling of being trapped powerless in their own bodies, much like the artificial intelligence trapped in the robotic cells in the science-fiction television series Humans.

Finally, this list wouldn’t be complete without reference to Charlie Priest’s favourite film Freaks. A 1932 American film in which the ‘freaks’ of the travelling circus are the real heroes, while the ‘non-freaks’ are the villains. What better way is there to celebrate being different?

So what did I think about The Mayfly?  Here's my review:

A mutilated body discovered in the woods. 
A murderous plan conceived in the past.
A reckoning seventy years in the making . . .

When lawyer Charlie Priest is attacked in his own home by a man searching for information he claims Priest has, he is drawn into a web of corruption that has its roots in the last desperate days of World War Two. 

When his attacker is found murdered the next day, Priest becomes a suspect and the only way to clear his name is to find out about the mysterious House of Mayfly - a secret society that people will kill for. 

As Priest races to uncover the truth, can he prevent history from repeating itself?

What did I think?

Like a pesky bluebottle, the buzz about The Mayfly on Twitter was hard to ignore - not that I could ever ignore such excitement surrounding a new book!  So like a moth to the flame I was powerless to resist The Mayfly and picked it up almost as soon as it dropped on my mat.  What an intriguing book this is, I am certain that we have not heard the last of Charlie Priest and I, for one, can't wait to read about what he gets up to next.

I could probably write a whole review about Charlie Priest, yet I get the feeling that we have only just scratched the surface of his fascinating life.  Charlie is an ex-policeman who retrained as a lawyer, he suffers from dissociative disorder and has a brother who is a serial killer.  See - intriguing or what?  Add to this a dual timeline with a post-war experimentation slant and I was lucky to finish the book without getting papercuts from turning the pages so fast.

Charlie aside, I absolutely loved his associate, Simon 'Solly' Solomon.  Solly is an accountant - he likes numbers not people, which is pretty much how I describe myself - but oh my word, he is such an amusing character.  He's completely OCD and I almost choked with laughter as he revealed his inner Sheldon Cooper (of Big Bang Theory fame).  Like a typical accountant, he's forgotten about as you never see him arrive or leave and he's left to beaver away in a dark and dusty room, but he's always there to be relied upon.  

I think it's always a worry with dual timelines that the reader sometimes feels as if they are reading two separate books.  I felt a bit like that when I started The Mayfly as I couldn't see how these two stories were related or how they would ever come together at the end, which is why The Mayfly is so brilliant as it all slots together perfectly.  James Hazel is a refreshing and exciting new voice in crime fiction and I'm already looking forward to more Charlie Priest adventures.  Believe the buzz on this one, and make sure you catch a copy of The Mayfly.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

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