Archive for April, 2011

Black Flowers reviews

Posted by on April 23rd, 2011

Okay, given Black Flowers came out last week, I thought I’d collate a few initial reviews and things.

Laura Wilson gave it a nice mention in the Guardian:

“Tense and gripping, this is a fascinating exploration of the often uncomfortable – and in this case lethal – shape-shifting relationship between fiction and reality.”

Read more here.

Then we have the Madhouse Family Review, which says:

“It’s a literary Russian doll with a novel inside a novel and at times it’s hard to work out what is fact and what is fiction – or, more confusingly, what is fiction about to become fact or fiction that has been repeated so often it’s become fact … It’s a tense, chilling … part crime novel, part horror fiction but above all, a psycholgical thriller as you thrash around blindly in a darkened hall of mirrors, trying to work out what is going on and where it is all leading.”

More here.

Robin Jarossi of Shotsmag comes to much the same conclusion here:

“The narrative is intricate, at times tricky, but ultimately rewarding for the reader … Black Flowers is a cleverly constructed hall of mirrors. The narratives twist and turn so much that it is easy to miss where it is stretching plausibility, but it is intriguing and reaches a pulsating, horrific climax.”

Crimesquad were also kind enough to run a review:

“Mosby went for quantity over quality and this took away the believability factor for me, which in all honesty took the edge off my enjoyment … However, other than this, I found the plot in general to be novel and was unable to put the book down, although in parts the plot was a little predictable.”

More here – though that link will have to change. (Note to self, really).

The News of the World (Scotland) says:

“With an ending as chilling as anything Stephen King has written, it’s essential reading for crime fans.”

Which is lovely. It’s possible they also ran an interview with me, but I’m not 100% sure it happened. If so, it will have been in the print edition along with the review.

Keith B Walters gave it a fantastic review, saying, amongst other things:

“It will keep you guessing, it will have you wondering but, above all, it will have you gripped reading it right until the last page … A really spooky, dark and gripping read – just what we’ve come to expect from Mr Mosby, but I think he’s raised the bar with this.”

Thank you very much to Keith. Read more here.

There’s a fantastic one from Mat Coward at the Morning Star online:

“Black Flowers will surely be one of 2011’s most talked about crime novels. It combines a rare level of tension and readability with writing as fresh and precise as good poetry and a plot that’s as original as it is chilling.”

Full review here.

Last but not least, Paul Connolly in the Metro said:

“Steve Mosby should be up there with the Mark Billinghams of the crime-horror genre… Mosby’s narrative ingenuity quickly establishes itself and this exacting, often terrifying, tale…soon exerts an irresistible grip.”

I can’t find an online link to that, but feel honour bound to point out it wasn’t a 100% positive review, but nice all the same.

Thanks to everyone who reviewed the book – much appreciated.

There’s also this, which is an interview I did for Al Guthrie’s site on eBooks. Really enjoyed doing it, so thanks to Al for asking – and be sure to check out the rest of the site while you’re there.

I think that’s everything. Apologies if I’ve missed anything or anyone. Give me a nudge if so.

And … relax.


Posted by on April 14th, 2011


So asks Paul Goat Allen here. The answer, surely, is nothing very much at all – or at least, the answer doesn’t lie in the specifics.

Here is the thing about the enduring monsters: they’re all nearly human, but not quite. Either they look human but hide something inside, or else they look partially human with some trait – some sin – exaggerated to a frightening extent. They might occupy neighbouring caverns in the uncanny valley, but most of the well-known monsters are in there somewhere. They earn their monstrosity by being recognisably human and yet throwingly alien somehow, either in their looks or behaviour.

The (fictional) serial killer is simply the newest addition to a long list. He looks human but isn’t emotionally. He’s a little bit werewolf, a little bit vampire. He walks among us like the former, breaks into our homes like the latter. There’s a scene in Dracula where Van Helsing explains what the Count may and may not do, what his powers and limits are, and it’s reminiscent of modern serial killer thrillers, with their all-but unstoppable murderers explained by the profilers. That apparently inexplicable, chaotic force intruding on everyone’s lives? Here are some rules to help you deal with it.

Serial killers in real life tend to be stupid and dull – cunning on a very basic level, but nowhere close to Lecter-smart. Fiction, for the most part, doesn’t deal with realistic serial killers, no matter what the authors tell you. It deals with serial killer as monster, and crime fiction as a beat the monster narrative.

So what does the popularity of a serial killer ‘hero’ tell us? Nothing. No more than the popularity of a vampire or werewolf hero does. It’s just a shifting – an exploration – of tropes, and a corresponding neutering. Dexter, for example, kills bad guys. He’s the serial killer equivalent of the vampire that lives principally on animal blood and only attacks apparently deserving gangsters. This is how it goes. The monstrous outsider is scary until you make friends with him, join his gang, and he starts using his powers to kill bad guys instead of you.

And so, no, it tells us nothing more about ourselves than that. Other than that, perhaps, we’re all very much in need of a new monster.