Will Carver is one of very few writers who I'm exciting about reading whenever a new novel is released, simply because I never know what kind of dark and disturbing world I'm about to be drawn into, and that, for the reader, is the best feeling ever.
Fans of his previous novels which include 'Good Samaritans' and 'Nothing Important Happened Today' will know the strange, unsettling and dangerous worlds he creates and the level of uncomfortable detail he puts into his fiction. 'The Beresford', a standalone novel, is no different, but it's also very different. If you enjoyed 'Rosemary's Baby', you're going to love this.
What I love about Carver's writing is that it stretches right across the spectrum from the ordinary to the fantastical. The Beresford is peopled with regular, everyday characters, who we've all met at some point in our lives – the lonely bookworm, the young woman starting out on her own, the abused housewife wanting to escape her husband. There is nothing exceptional about them, until they arrive at The Beresford which is a character in itself and is far removed from anything in real life.
Mrs May, the seemingly innocent caretaker of the building, is a regular busybody, ingratiating herself in the lives of her tenants. We meet, and like, Abe, Blair, Sythe, Gail and Aubrey, but beneath the surface, something strange, dark, malevolent and utterly captivating is going on.
The first murder is written in a way that is understandable. A complete accident, and a likeable, innocent man is left wondering how to get rid of the body. This is written in glorious technicolour by Carver, but never gratuitously so. There's a fine line between knowledgeable entertainment and gory horror and Carver just manages to rub up against it. His attention to detail is phenomenal. The further into the book we go, the more difficult it is to put down. Like The Beresford itself, you'll be sucked in, and you'll never be able to leave.
Will Carver is a brilliant writer who touches on societal problems including our feeling of worth, the effects of war on mental health, spousal abuse and organised religion, giving us almost angry takes on life in twenty-first century Britain, but wrapped up in this extraordinary story. The Beresford is dark and unflinching, and I loved every word of it.