Bryan J Mason’s novel, Shaking Hands With The Devil, will not be for everyone. There are jokes and themes in here which, as they say, push boundaries, so if you are someone who takes offence at words on a page, then I think it’s probably ‘Goodnight Vienna‘. For those made of sterner stuff, here’s the story.
We are in late 1980s London – the autumnal years of Thatcher’s Britain – beset by endless assaults by the IRA. A predatory killer called Clifton Gentle – think Denis Nilsen – is enticing young (men) to come back to his home, (where) he kills them and chops them up into pieces. Sometimes the pieces stay in his flat, but when they become too noxious, he leaves them spread about the capital, in skips, under bushes or in Biffa bins.
On his trail is a grotesque cartoon of a copper – DCI Dave Hicks. He lives at home with his dear old mum, has a prodigious appetite for her home-cooked food, is something of a media whore (he does love his press conferences) and has a shaky grasp of English usage, mangling idioms like a 1980s version of Mrs Malaprop.
The other gags come thick and fast. We have three new police cadets – Oldfield, Abberline and Slipper – working on the case (Google if you’re not sure}, while the editor of The Herald Review (one of the newspapers covering the case) is a certain Mr Charles Manson.
Mason’s final audacious name-check is when he reveals that there is a second killer on the loose, a young man who has won all the glittering prizes, but has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Peter Kurten is determined to make the most of his final six months by a bit of casual ‘triple D’ – Date, Death, Dismember. A confession. Suspecting that this was another joke, I Googled the name (so you don’t have to) and found that Peter Kurten a.k.aThe Vampire of Düsseldorfwas a notorious German serial killer who went to the guillotine on 2nd July 1931.
Bryan J Mason has written a dystopian novel which is, in turn, ghastly, eyebrow-raising and hilarious, but is also a must for those who like their satire as black as night – Fully Booked 20107 https://fullybooked2017.com/2022/03/08/shaking-hands-with-the-devil-between-the-covers/?fbclid=IwAR1U-pWwkxYErqnpdaP3o7_s0usejud5FWOqOhLPEblRCPUdFY9mkW7M50w