Reaping the Dark by Gary McMahon
Reaping the Dark by Gary McMahon (Dark Fuse, 2014), 2014) is a masterclass in taut, economical writing. The prose is cut-down and efficient. The plot clicks together like clockwork. And the subject matter is pleasingly dark. We’re in the world of noir crime where organised gangs rob and steal. Let’s start with the methodology of the driver. Perhaps this is not the most glamorous member of the criminal team but, when the robbery has gone down, and you run for the car, you remember the need for someone who can get you away. This does not, of course, mean drive like a stuntman holidaying from Fast and Furious. Not only do you want to arrive at your destination in one piece, you also want to do it without police cars hot on your trail. That means the driver must be able to get away without attracting too much attention. The mark of the true professional is never to be noticed. At least that’s the way Driver Z has built his career. He’s considered one of the best.
Of course, he should not have been tempted. When he ended up with the money in the car and no passengers, he should have gone quietly home and just waited for any survivors to contact him. The decision to disappear with the money was a mistake. But perhaps he can recover the situation. Now he has a gun, he may be able to return the money and get away with the woman he loves. Yes, it’s unfortunate the others have her. If they had stayed together. If he had not gone for the gun. . . There are always ifs.
The art of the good novella is to conceive of a plot that’s inherently limited. That way, you can set up the plot and run like Hell with it until you reach the end without having to draw breath. In this case, our driver gets into a situation not of his choosing. But when he makes the wrong decision, he gets to run, hide from enemies and, when it’s unavoidable, fight. Of course, he’s spent his life developing the power to stay calm under pressure. He’s a head over heart person. Except where his lady’s involved, of course. If he had not a care for her in the world, he would have taken the money and disappeared. But she’s pregnant and he’s committed. In a way, this relationship has come as something of a revelation to him. He didn’t have the best of childhoods. But as parenthood beckons, he begins to look on the idea of being a father as something desirable. So now he has to make a stand. No more the quick getaway. Now he needs his steady nerves in defence then attack.
The dangers he faces and whether he succeeds are waiting for you to find out. Reaping the Dark is one of the best supernatural horror novellas of the year so far. You should read it.
A copy of this book was sent to me for review.