Review: The Quorum / Author: Kim Newman / Publisher: Titan / Release Date: Out Now
Novelist, critic, TV pundit – Kim Newman has had a glittering career. But have you ever wondered about the secret of his success? Then you might be intrigued by The Quorum, an early novel of his that's now been reissued by Titan. It sees three schoolchums making a Faustian pact with a demonic figure who promises them fame and fortune on the condition that they agree to persecute a fourth friend, Neil, miring him in failure and misery. Interesting, very interesting. Anything you'd care to 'fess up to, Mr Newman?
Skipping deftly between the '70s, '80s and early '90s, the book charts with sardonic verve the trio's effortless climb to the top and Neil's descent into despair and apathy. It's a lean, tautly plotted tale, and there's an attack to the writing and a bite to the humour which makes you think of Martin Amis' brilliant early novels. The Quorum has its flaws – it loses some of its sharpness as the Deal unravels, and the main characters tend to blur together, all part of the same London glitterati. All the same, this is perhaps Newman's best book outside of his Anno Dracula series (a particular highlight is an arc to do with one of the would-be Fausts, a comic book writer/artist who has penned an Arkham Asylum-style graphic novel about the Boston Strangler and is now set on retconning a DC-type publisher's stable of superheroes). It comes with several short stories, including Newman's witty take on over-zealous bibliophiles, The Man Who Collected Barker.