Reviewed by: Keith Nixon
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Approximate word count: 25-30,000 words
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Richard Godwin is an author, poet and playwright. He holds a BA in English and American English from King’s College, London where he has also been a lecturer. Richard splits his time between America and the UK.
Bertrand Mavers looks like your average, successful man. He’s an accomplished cellist and has a therapist. He’s also a serial killer, collecting people for his project, The Farm.
Writing the description for this review was the toughest element to achieve. This is a difficult novel to pin down in terms of ‘what it is.’ What makes this novel tick is a supremely high level of psychological tension, an aspect which the author has excelled in previously, but takes to a new level here.
I’ve previously reviewed two of Godwin’s novels. Meaningful Conversations has parallels to Piquant: Tales of the Mustard Man in that as the reader I always had a question mark in my mind as to what was real and what was in the characters’ minds. There are also parallels to American Psycho, Mavers is one sick puppy. His mysterious project, The Farm, consumes his time. He collects people to populate it and entertain him.
But back to the psychology – the narrative is tense throughout. Mavers lives an unusual life in the ‘normal’ half of his world. Everyone around him, including his therapist, Otto, is equally mad in their own way (except they don’t kidnap and murder people). They live debauched lives, orchestrated by Mavers - making the classical music angle from the protagonist particularly interesting. When Mavers plays, others follow, a little like the Pied Piper of Hamelin. In a bizarre way Mavers is the sanest of his fellow characters.
Meaningful Conversations will appeal to readers who have strong stomachs, some of the scenes are gruesome. But this is a highly entertaining, thought provoking and challenging novel that I read in a single sitting.
Some gruesome scenes.
Rating: ***** Five Stars