a review by Steve Cameron
A young woman has extremely vivid nightmares. She is aware of a presence in her room at night – waiting, watching her as she sleeps. In the morning she dismisses this, thinks she imagined it – that is until she discovers a photograph of herself sleeping taped to the inside of her window. Someone has scrawled “I’m watching over you” on the photo and now she fears for her life. Detective Inspector Phil Brennan of the Major Incident Squad, a brilliant police officer, is currently working on a case regarding the abduction, torture and murder of a different young woman. His team of officers must unite and work together in order to apprehend the killer. Does the night-time stalker tie in with his case? Does the killer exist in the physical world, or is the whole thing completely supernatural?
The original premise of the blurb reminded me of David Lynch’s The Lost Highway, and I was rather keen to get into this book. Unfortunately this is where any similarity ends. The writing is wildly uneven, ranging from long, unwieldy sentences with an excess of commas, to short, staccato, incomplete sentences within the space of a few paragraphs. The editing too is lax, with obvious spelling mistakes, incorrect grammar and syntax, unsophisticated language choices, missing words and sentences that make no sense. Clichéd situations, stereotypical caricatures for characters and generally poor writing make it difficult to sustain interest in reading this. Carver tries her best to convince us that Detective Inspector and his crew are brilliant, but in reality I’d be concerned if this bumbling lot were put in charge of a school crossing on the smallest, loneliest country lane. They are incompetent, unable to ask the most basic of questions in interviews as they stumble blindly from one catastrophe to the next. The squad of inept investigators, who use no real police procedure, parade through and miss exceedingly obvious clues and follow-up enquiries. And then there’s the ludicrous soap-opera world in which they sleep with each other, undermine their colleagues and all carry baggage from their pasts that interferes with the investigation. The narrative hints at supernatural elements alongside the presence of a very real, physical killer. And unfortunately this is never clarified or explained. Ultimately the ending is completely overwrought and ridiculously implausible.
The Creeper is a book I couldn’t wait to finish – for all the wrong reasons.
This article was previously published in Dark Matter issue 3, April 2011, and predated on this website to reflect the original publication date.