Mo Hayder, Ritual
Mo Hayder has become a major force in British noir and psychological crime with her energetic and imaginative novels. “Ritual is one of her most uncompromising (and most surely compelling) novels in a career notable for its audacity” – Barry Forshaw. Ritual is the first book in the Walking Man series and this edition iis one of only 55 numbered and signed copies with an appreciation by Margaret Murphy.
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Mo Hayder burst on the crime scene in 2001 with Birdman, a novel of serial killings in South London. She received notices that compared her book to Thomas Harris’s Red Dragon, and with a mixture of stand alone thrillers such as Tokyo and the more shady DI Jack Cafferey police procedural series, Mo Hayder has become a major force in British Noir and psychological crime.
“Ritual is one of her most uncompromising (and most surely compelling) novels in a career notable for its audacity”. British Crime Writing: An Encyclopedia (edited by Barry Forshaw). The narrative in Ritual is a complex one with many concurrent themes, the strongest of which is that almost all the characters have some element of their past that haunts or troubles them in their current lives. But Hayder explores other issues too, including the way people deal, or don’t deal, with being transplanted from their own culture and the role that family bonds play at all layers of society. Set in Bristol, a city of historical ties to the past in trade and culture, it is a enticingly rich background.
The primary strengths of this darkly mesmerising novel are Mo’s gifts as a storyteller and her ability to peer over the dank chasm of unpleasantness without fully plunging into outright offensiveness. With each novel Caffrey becomes a more compelling, vivid and well-developed character, though whether the reader actually likes him or is invited to approve of his methods is debatable. Jack’s attempts to expunge the guilt he feels over the death of his brother Ewan – by his single minded pursuit of child abusers and others of similar backgrounds – gives him more nuance. While his attraction to prostitutes is further evidence of his spiritual malaise. Both Marilyn and The Walking Man recognise the emotional void in him and conclude that the only redemption Jack will ever find will be arrived at through the creation of another life, despite his antipathy to fatherhood. Very subtle psychological insight on display here as Jack may, perhaps, in the subsequent novels be offered the opportunity to exorcise his previously referred to demons by replacing death with life. The Walking Man has in subsequent novels become an important driver in the stories.
Issued in a run of only 55 numbered and signed copies. Crime novelist Margaret Murphy wrote the appreciation. Hayder is a writer to relish.