Review: The Perfect Host / Author: Robert C. Martin / Publisher: AuthorHouseUK / Release Date: Out Now
Never interfere with "the other side". That’s the message that comes across loud and clear from The Perfect Host, the self-published début novel from Welsh-based writer Robert C. Martin, wherein “a dark ancient enemy lies within a gateway between existences - waiting to be invited into the material world".
Martin writes in an urgent style, bordering on the hectic, that sweeps the story along briskly and the reader cannot help but be swept along with it. Both his medical training and his experiences in paranormal investigation are put to good use in this modern day ghost story.
Damien Driscoll is a leading anaesthetist working at St Bartholomew’s hospital in London. Developing an almost obsessive interest in the afterlife following an encounter with the spirit of his deceased mother after her funeral, he becomes involved with a research project investigating near-death experiences, at great potential cost to his career and credibility. Two of his patients encounter a troubled soul seeking redress for a terrible wrong, and meanwhile Driscoll's own life takes an tangential turn when his application for a research grant is denied in favour of a more politically friendly stem cell project.
But that’s not all. Martin has woven a remarkable, multi-faceted tale with a detailed backstory and supporting cast – the latter including a girl who becomes possessed after receiving a replacement heart from a sacrificial victim, and a promising medical student who is forced to serve a coven. As if that wasn't enough, there’s also a Jack the Ripper-style murderer loose in London and the venerable hospital itself has a grim secretive past, which threatens to shake it to its very foundations.
The book it a quick read, with no time wasted on over-long descriptions and needless scene setting. To employ a well-known advertising phrase, The Perfect Host is all killer - no filler. The plot throws a few curveballs and has a number of red herrings that keep the reader guessing – we'd love to elaborate, but that would give the game away. Suffice it to say that the book is written and paced like a film, with some expertly executed jump cuts between the characters and their developing predicaments. Martin’s a writer to keep an eye out for.