Last year one of my favourite new books, and really deserving of five stars, was Sebastian Beaumont’s debut novel, the marvellous Thirteen. Framed around the strange life of a depressed night-cabbie, it was multilayered, darkly surreal and edgy. It played tricks with your mind, (which with hindsight reminds me of master-mentalist Derren Brown’s Trick or Treat TV series – mostly the tricks though!). You can read a good interview from last year with Sebastian about Thirteen here.
Could The Juggler be as good? Definitely! The story this time is about mid-life crisis and one man’s journey through it.
Mark, a bored engineer, is provoked by a couple of strange occurrences to abandon his family and seven month old son. A comedian rants at him in a club and seems to know all his personal details, then a man gives him a bag, which he later finds contains forty grand, and tells him to take it to Jonathan. Armed with just a flyer for a mysterious ‘Club Covert’, Mark takes a train and ends up at the seaside, with just the clothes on his back – and the cash…
I found it impossible to write about the story any further without making it seem banal, because that is something it emphatically is not. Saying that Mark finds an attitude of ‘You’re not from around these parts are you?’ is not doing it any justice. It’s much weirder than that – Mark’s mind plays tricks on him, and moments of paranoia and guilt keep changing everything. Added to this, the underlying air of menace leads Mark to seek refuge which in turn has its own mind-bending effects.
It’s everything that Thirteen is, but pushing different psychological buttons – totally gripping! Do pop over to Just William’s Luck too, where you’ll find an excellent interview with the author about The Juggler which I found very elucidating indeed. 10/10