22nd Apr2013

Book Review – The Magpies

by Lloyd Paige

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The Magpies by Mark Edwards

Synopsis

When Jamie and Kirsty move into their first home together they are full of optimism. The future, in

which they plan to get married and start a family, is bright. The other residents of their building seem

friendly too, including the Newtons, a married couple who welcome them to the building with open arms.

But then strange things start to happen. Dead rats are left on their doorstep. They hear disturbing

noises, and much worse, in the night. After Jamie’s best friend is injured in a horrific accident, Jamie

and Kirsty find themselves targeted by a campaign of terror.

As Jamie and Kirsty are driven to the edge of despair, Jamie vows to fight back – but he has no idea what

he is really up against…


The Review

Mark Edwards is the other half of the well known writing duo Voss & Edwards and has written such bestselling books as Catch Your Death and Killing Cupid.

Jamie works in IT and Kirsty works in a hospital. Entering into a home together heralds a new beginning for the couple, further aiding to cement their relationship. But their attempt to bond with fellow neighbours Chris and Lucy Newton soon fails. Mark Edwards has skilfully taken two ordinary people – Jamie and Kirsty, and put them in an ordinary situation – i.e. a new flat and looking forward to the future, but with extra ordinary repercussions. So from the beginning of the story we’re convinced by the actions of the two characters and feel for them when things begin to go wrong.

Along with their friends Paul and Heather, the couple join Chris and Lucy for a day out which starts well enough but ends in disaster. It’s then that Jamie really begins to smell a rat, quite literally.

The smiles of Chris and Lucy gradually fade and their real menace comes to the fore. Life for Jamie and Kirsty becomes stuck in a spiral of dread and psychological torment as their happiness and enthusiasm for the future dissolves, letters arrive and they fall victim to hoax calls. War of The Worlds is played at unacceptable times and did I mention the rats? Accusations and anonymous complaints only serve to affect their interaction with one another, including their intimacy. The police are called but without proof not much can be done.

So how can Jamie deal with this? Well a colleague at work leaves him in no doubt as to what he should do but Jamie is reluctant to step down that steep and dangerous path and when the couple receive some good news they decide to let bygones be bygones. Sadly a gut wrenching accident (or is it?) puts paid to that and sends Jamie over the edge. He’s exhausted and becomes obsessed with getting even with his scarily deranged neighbours. Edwards steps up to the plate by amplifying an unfortunately common problem to such a degree that the narrative arc pulls you in and refuses to let you go until you’ve found out how it ends.

The reader treads every step and shares every ball of confusion and anger with a fraught Jamie knowing that he is going to finish the suffering one way or the other. And you can’t blame him as we reach the pulsating and dramatic end because there can’t be many of us that would want to hear extracts of War of The Worlds played at 3 a.m. in the morning is there?

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