It was nice to start 2016 (or, to be honest the last few days of 2015 while I was on holliers) with something that came to me in semi-mysterious circumstances, full of handwritten notes, post-its and printed e-mails…
Jack Sparks was a controversial journo-turned social media personality and author who had written books such as “Jack Sparks on a Pogo Stick” (where he travelled the length of the UK on said transport), “Jack Sparks on Gangs” (you get the idea) and “Jack Sparks on Drugs” (where, and detrimentally to his health he tried every drug known to man and ended up in rehab). You get the idea.
His next book was to be “…On the Supernatural” – his debunking of everything not-of-this-world from the perspective of a committed atheist and cynic. During the writing someone posted a video on his own Youtube channel that disappeared just as quickly. It appears to show something that can’t be possible and it leads him down a path that ultimately leads to his death. What we’re reading is a book compiled after the fact and framed by his brother in an effort to set the public record straight.
The book is genuinely creepy in places (and I don’t creep easily), rattles along in a kind of Bourne way from the UK to Italy, Hong Kong and America and spends the whole book screwing with your head by questioning the reliability of Jack’s own narration, Alistair’s writing of “the book” and even whether what you’re witnessing is actually supernatural, wibbly wobbly timey-wimey or all happening in Jack’s fecked up, fame-obsessed, social media fixated psyche.
As for Jack Sparks (because most of the story is his “notes” written as he’s researching the event that kicks this all off), imagine a cross between Piers Morgan, Louis Theroux and Richard Dawkins in a remake of The Exorcist for the social media age with a touch of “directed by Christopher Nolan” thrown in and you’re sort of there.
The story itself is cracking fun, messes with your head regularly and the ending was enough to make me force my other half to read it early just so I could have someone to discuss the pros and cons with or the way it went. Yeah, there are a couple of things I thought clunked and I would have been more thrilled had it finished a different way (the way I thought it was going) but it’s small beans and shouldn’t take from a very enjoyable thriller.
They’ve even gone to the trouble of creating an online footprint for him including a website with messages from his brother, deleted video and all at http://www.jacksparks.co.uk/ but I’d suggest leaving it until after you’ve read the book lest you spoil anything for yourself.
Should be lying on sun loungers everywhere this summer and flying off shelves when it comes out. But not in the poltergeist way. Don’t be silly. There’s no such thing as the supernatural…