Wednesday, 21 August 2013

The Long Shadow by Mark Mills

DATE READ: August 2013

NOTES: Ben is a somewhat unsuccessful film scriptwriter with a failed marriage and no money.  He is thrilled to hear that  multi-millionaire businessman Victor Sheldon is keen to branch out into film production and is interested in Ben’s latest script.  A lunch meeting is set up and Ben is amazed when Victor turns out to be a childhood friend previously known as Jacob Hogg.  Apart from the change of name there are more subtle changes in Victor.  He seems not to be able to do enough for Ben – even inviting him to move into his manor house and stay while he works on completing the script.

The narrative moves back and forth from childhood to the present.  Ben has bitter memories of his rivalry with Jacob – and of Jacob’s powerful manipulation of both adults and other children.  Ben finds himself enjoying life in such comfortable surrounding until a few things begin to niggle him.  Has Victor/Jacob really changed?  Does he have ulterior motives for rekindling his friendship with Ben?

This is a slow-burn psychological page turner as the long shadow of their childhood friendship darkens Ben’s world as he remembers the betrayals and guilt of the past.  Once I started to read it I couldn’t put it down.  The scenes involving Ben’s son Toby and Victor’s son Marcio were really chilling.

I do have some issues with the ending which I thought was a bit weak – I would have preferred a firmer resolution.  But Mark Mills is a brilliant storyteller and the writing is superb throughout.