Killing God is Kevin Brooks’ ninth novel and it’s as fine as anything he’s written. Of his previous work it has most in common with his third novel, Kissing The Rain, a book that was told in the unforgettable, stream of consciousness voice of an overweight boy, Moo Nelson.
The voice dominating Brooks’ latest novel is that of a 15 year old girl called Dawn Bundy, obsessed with the music of The Jesus And Mary Chain (to the extent of calling her two dogs Jesus and Mary, much to the annoyance of her church-attending neighbours) and constantly referring back to when she was 13 years old, a time when something of huge signficance happened to turn her into the reclusive “totally unattractive” person she now considers herself to be.
Just as with Kissing The Rain, it is not sufficient to describe this as a story told in the first-person. What we get in this novel is much more than a narrative. We get the experience of feeling completely at one with the character, not merely following her story, but experiencing life as she experiences it, hearing the frequently quoted Jesus and Mary Chain lyrics in our head, sensing the menacing discomfort when the normally unfriendly Mel and Taylor visit her and spend time in her bedroom plying her with alcohol.
It seems to me that Brooks does something even more impressive than Joyce’s famous Molly Bloom soliloquy, because he manages to have Dawn slip seamlessly between her stream of consciousness inner monologue, and her recounting of both past and present incidents. We gradually learn that the striking title of the novel (given a fittingly striking typographical cover design by http://the-parish.com/) is linked to the disappearance of her father, a character every bit as shambolic as Frank Gallagher from the TV series Shameless, who shortly before his disappearance became a God addict, making Dawn and her mother’s life more unbearable than ever.
Since he’s been gone, mother and daughter have been able to indulge and console themselves in various material luxuries – a big flastscreen TV, laptop, ipod etc. – thanks to a bag of cash the father left behind. This becomes a key factor in the developing climax of the book, as does the the trigger for the father’s disappearance two years previously.
Of the book’s ending I can say only that it makes the novel’s title entirely apposite.
There are the de rigeur ‘grateful acknowledgements’ to Jim & William Reid for permission to use The Jesus And Mary Chain lyrics. I dare say the Scottish brothers are fairly grateful to Brooks in return for giving their music such high profile and thereby winning them new fans.