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by Peter Luther 

This is one of the most original ideas for a novel I’ve come across. A man, who sees his life as a failure, who is despairing and planning to run away to Spain and start a new life on the morrow, has a last night with a prostitute, who leaves a strange magazine, complete with a similarly strange crossword, with him. He gets obsessed with the magazine and crossword (possessed?) and, as the book progresses, his life changes completely, first for the better and then decidedly for the worse, until eventually, the crossword is complete and the truth is revealed. To find out this truth, read the book.

The originality, apart from a possessed magazine, comes from the crossword. This is shown, with the clues, at the beginning of the book and gradually gets filled in as the book progresses. Each chapter, with a couple of exceptions, is titled after the previously solved clue and each thing that happens to the protagonist, Lewis, leads him to a solution to a clue, which itself leads to the next stage in his life and the adventure that both he and we, are on.

Who are Baron Enterprises? What does the lovely Bernice actually do there? Is BB really his friend? Why is the picture of Mary Stone decaying and how does the human hair get into the magazine? How come one of the twins in the photograph gets younger while the other gets older? How do the letters on the letters’ page change. And where does the awful smell come from?

Yes, this is a strange book. This is a supernatural book; a book of hauntings and possession. But they are hauntings and it is possession unlike any I have read before.

Peter Luther, whose name I am sure must be a pseudonym; I mean the first Pope and the man who created the Protestant Church? Peter Luther has had a great idea, create a book around a haunted crossword, and then constructed it very carefully, very cleverly and beautifully logically. Not to mention, creepily, for this book, while making you turn the page, can certainly make you dread what’s on the next one. This is that rarest of books nowadays, an intelligent horror story.


Buy this book from Amazon


ISBN 0 86243 954 X
Y Lolfa, 2007
376pp, paperback
Retail price 7.95

Open Book

Review by Chris Williams