I only discovered Will Carver earlier this year when I read The Beresford for its blog tour in July. Wow! I loved that smart, funny, horror novel and have since acquired several of his earlier ones. Then, not even six months later comes another Will Carver novel!
Psychopaths Anonymous is narrated by Maeve, a successful marketing manager. She’s ruthlessly good at her job. She works hard, but plays harder. Maeve is an alcoholic and an attendee at AA meetings all around north London. But she’s no intention of ever giving up booze, the twelve step programme is a game to her, although once Gary, her regular group’s leader and the man she’s picked to be her sponsor introduces God into the picture in Step 3 it gets her rather worked up, she says, paraphrasing the Serenity Prayer:
God, grant me the lack of empathy to kill the ones I cannot stand, apathy for the ones I can tolerate, and detachment to know the difference. Thy kill, not mine, will be fun. (p39)
As you can see from the quote above, Maeve is not your ordinary alcoholic, she has murder on her mind, and poor Gary might be top of her list. She’s not getting the thrills she needs from AA, so she decides to start a ‘mental health support group’ for like-minded folk, and Psychopaths Anonymous is born, for Friends of Maeve. You can sense that it’s going to get messy, can’t you? What’s more after years of one-night-stands, Maeve has finally met someone. Seth is stirring up unusual emotions in her. Could he be the one?
To explain the novel much more would be to spoil all the fun. I can tell you that it is structured around the twelve steps – but Carver subverts them at every… well, step!
This novel is violent, sassy, sexy and very funny in the darkest possible way, but alongside all the gore, it gives Carver the opportunity to comment on social problems including addiction, poverty, sex working, mental health and support groups of course.
And we also get an insight into the mind of a true psychopath in our unreliable narrator – or is she totally reliable? Hard to tell. I’ve never met a character like murderous Maeve. I had to keep reading to see what she was going to do next, and Carver manipulates his readers to make them on Maeve’s side, which is rather squirm-inducing if you stop for one moment to think about it.
If you can’t read gore, this may not be the book for you. But if you can, this is such a clever and addictive novel from one of our most innovative authors of psychological horror thrillers who’s fast becoming a cult favourite. I strongly recommend it.
Source: Review copy – thank you.
Orenda Books, paperback original, 276 pages.
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