The Quorum by Kim Newman

9/10 A cautionary tale told with the usual wit and flair of one of horror's best contemporary writers.

In 1961, Derek Leech emerges fully formed from the polluted Thames, destined to found a global media empire. In 1978, three ambitious young men strike a deal with Leech. They are offered wealth, glamour, and success, but a price must be paid. In 1994, Leech's purpose moves to its conclusion, and as the men struggle, they realize the truth of the ultimate price.

Kim Newman does Faust! Like most Newman novels, this takes on a well-known horror theme and gives it a twist. The Quorum does not disappoint, with its mischievous humour and satirical look at the 1970s through to the 1990s. Newman manages to capture the bleakness of the seventies, the greed and short-termism of the eighties, and the introspection and angst of the nineties.

The main protagonists that form the Quorum include Mark, Mickey, Michael and Neil. The three M’s all enjoy success and good fortune as long as Neil suffers. The narrative jumps between the present day and the past as the story unfolds. Some will enjoy this technique, whilst others may find it a little jarring. Personally, I managed to follow the story and appreciated the obvious care and detail that Newman has put into this. He clearly relishes the minutiae of the worlds he creates, and his knowledge of film, television and popular culture in general, are enviable.

The character of Sally Rhodes, the private investigator, is another inspired creation, joining the pantheon of strong heroines in Newman’s catalogue. Through her we learn more, including some very unpalatable truths. As I read on, all I could keep thinking was “Poor Neil.” He really does suffer while his so-called friends prosper.

This is a cautionary tale, told with the usual wit and creative flair of one of horror’s best contemporary writers. For Newman fans this is a must read. It’s not his best, but it exhibits all the ingredients that make a Newman novel so enjoyable and memorable.

The Quorum by Kim Newman
Published 2013 by Titan Books

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