Thursday, April 3, 2014

The One, subtitled 'A Tale of a Lost Romantic in Seoul' is an artfully observed psychological thriller which tells the tale of a banal life corrupted inwardly by first attraction, which morphs into obsession, and eventually madness and darkness descend. In some thrillers the reader feels as though they are on the shoulder of the main character, seeing their thoughts. Not so in The One. The reader is placed right inside the main character's head and thoughts, the good and the ugly, in a sharply observed and internally consistent dialogue which is nevertheless disturbing and ultimately compelling. You might not like the character. You might hate him. You might not like what he does. But you will be drawn into a spider's web of passion, madness and betrayal.

Well written with subtle and effective use of backstory to flesh out the main character, The One reminded me of a contemporary version of Nabokov's Lolita. Nevertheless I felt there were two main drawbacks; the caricaturisation of main character's wife as 'the wife' which denied her becoming a force in the story apart from an ephemeral and ineffective occasional voice, and occasionally a lagging effect in the pace as the internal dialogue overpowered the storytelling.

However, if psychological thriller is your genre, then prepare to have the obligatory shiver descend your spine as you turn the pages of this subtle thriller. Beneath the layers of an ordinary life lies a deep, dark well which is plumbed by the author; a dark obsession, dreadful deeds (I shan't give a blow-by-blow summary of the plot to avoid a spoiler) and a satisfying conclusion.

This is a worthwhile work and comes highly recommended. I thank Steve Justice for proving a copy in exchange for an honest, non-reciprocal review.

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