Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Long Shadow | Mark Mills

Mills has been a favourite author for some time and I try and keep up with what he writes. This is a somewhat disappointing read given the tight prose and tense thrillers he has written before.

The story is essentially about two childhood friends, Jacob and Ben, who lose touch as adults. In their early forties, Ben is a less than successful screenwriter. He is coming to terms with his divorce and the shared custody of his son whom he dotes on and loves.
All of a sudden he is offered a 'too good to be true' option on a screenplay he is finishing and it transpires Jacob is back in his life. Jacob, now called Victor Sheldon, is offering to make movies from Ben's scripts, offering him millions of dollars in salary, asking him to head his philanthropic enterprises and go live in Victor's country estate.

Ben is overwhelmed and loving it. But as the story develops, so do Ben's doubts. Is it all too good to be true? It seems so.
Intercalated with the men in their forties are chapters where they appear as children. They had a conflicted relationship as children which seems to spill out into their adult lives as the novel progresses.

Here is where it gets disappointing. As a reader you pick up on the fact that there is something amiss, but the tension is not tight enough to be a 'thriller', more like a mild annoyance. When all is revealed, it seems to fall flat.

I much preferred The Savage Garden and The Information Officer, which are more tightly woven and the story more controlled. I have Mill's next offering to read next, and I am keen to see which way it goes.

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