Early on in this superb novel, the main character comes across a half-killed rabbit, with bulging eyes and a crushed spine. She shows her strength of character by doing the humane thing. And the author shows us how good she is at choosing her words and modulating them so that exactly the right tone and atmosphere is achieved.
I hesitated, because it was adorable, but half-shut my eyes and hit it twice on the neck, then once more for luck. I opened my eyes, feeling a complete heel, and saw its hind leg jerk skywards, then sink gracefully back to the ground. When I poked it with the stick its head lolled loose on its fragile neck. There was blood trickling from its ear that was a simply beautiful colour: jewel-red, sparkling so vividly against the tarmac you'd think the rabbit's life had drained out of its eyes onto the road. I touched its unblinking eyeball with the tip of a finger, then snatched it away; it was dead now, all right...
Make no mistake, this is not an easy scene to write well. So easy to overdo. So easy to underdo. So tempting to be either sensationally vivid or evasively poetic.
After reading this passage (page 30 in a 240 page long novel), I knew I could sit back and enjoy a story being told by a writer of the very highest calibre.
Bad Faith is a murder mystery with a dystopian backdrop. The trouble with most dystopian fiction is that it is laid on too thick. The horrors of the envisaged future swamp the drama being played out in its midst. But that is very much not the case here. The personal drama - the predicament of a young couple forced to dispose of a corpse - is always the driving force of the novel. Small details - cars driving past blaring religious trance music - are cleverly dropped in to suggest the daily living atmosphere in a society governed by the One Church and the gangs that intimidate unbelievers.
Cass's own father is a vicar of the One Church who, though sickened by its values, plays the game for the sake of his family's safety. The darker secrets that lurk in the family's past are gradually revealed by Philip with consummate skill.
Thematically and atmospherically Bad Faith recalls the early work of Kevin Brooks, a name I mention with due care, since I am eager to convey how very good I think this novel is; those who know my reviewing will know how highly I rate Brooks' work.
After I had finished it, I looked on Amazon to see if there were any reader reviews. There are (as of March '09) eight reviews, every single one of them 5-star reviews. So I am not alone by any means in thinking this a first-rate, five-achukachick read. I urge you to hunt it down.
I am now looking forward with much excitement to reading Crossing The Line, to be published by Bloomsbury in April (2009).