Mosby is a writer of intense and demanding tales that often come with an off-beam edge to them that makes them particularly unsettling reads. The Nightmare Place, a haunting police procedural driven by DI Zoe Dolan - Mosby's most memorable character yet - lacks nothing for tension, drama and darkness but does not have (and nor does it need) that odd edge.
From the first paragraph, however, Mosby heads for that place he writes so brilliantly, that place on the boundaries of your consciousness where you feel the least comfortable. His books almost feel like a fictionalisation of your worst fears - the noise downstairs during the night, the monster under the bed... Mosby also imbues his books with a very strong sense of place, again with a gift of ensuring that those places feel all too real without ever becoming anything like welcoming. The overall impact is claustrophobic and disturbing. Somehow when a crime is committed in a Mosby novel, I always feel like I'm watching, smelling and hearing it rather than merely reading it.
The Nightmare Place follows DI Dolan's pursuit of "The Creeper", a man who stalks and attacks women in their own home. Told broadly from the perspective of women - and women the reader knows or suspects to be at risk - the novel presents a gripping and chilling exmination of the psychology of fear. It works from the very extremes of how people react to an immediate threat, through to what for many is the day to day tension of living their lives in a world they find alien and bewildering. Dolan herself, to all outwards appearances the very toughest of nuts, is plagued by her own memories and fears of childhood.
As she closes in on the attacker - or vice versa - the tension for both characters and readers rises palpably and Mosby delivers a great edge-of-the-seat experience which holds its secrets tight until the last.
To my mind he is currently operating in the very top tier of British crime writers, and this novel is confirmation of his great skill and versatility. It's an absiolute ripper and deserves a broad audience.
Reviews of previous Steve Mosby novels:
The 50/50 Killer 2007