Sunday, 27 July 2008


Simon Kernick has quickly established himself as a very popular writer of fast-moving thrillers, with cliff-hangers aplenty. I read Relentless a while back, and I finished Severed just before setting off for Harrogate.

The opening scene is memorable. Tyler wakes up in a strange bed, covered in blood. Lying next to him is the naked body of a young woman – his girlfriend, Leah. Her head is missing. And soon Tyler finds himself playing a DVD which appears to show him killing Leah.

From that beginning, the pace really never lets up. There is twist after twist, and plenty more violence to accompany the excitement. All the action is compressed into a short timescale and the agony is piled on poor old Tyler, page after page.

I did wonder if Simon Kernick had in any way been influenced by Francis Durbridge’s thrillers. However, he’s too young to have watched classic cliff-hangers like Bat out of Hell and A Game of Murder, which were screened in the sixties, and he told me at Harrogate that he wasn’t familiar with Durbridge’s work. Yet, although Kernick is a very modern writer in many ways, and it wouldn’t be right to push the parallel too far, it does seem to me that those who like Durbridge’s pacy stories may well also like Kernick’s. And vice versa.


Stephen said...

I was disappointed by Severed. Nothing challenges the reader, it is just like watching a regular police drama on television.

Martin Edwards said...

Stephen, I can certainly understand why Severed wouldn't appeal to some readers (even though it is a best seller) but I found it light and undemanding, and very fast-paced, after a number of slower and 'heavier' reads.