Steven Boykey Sidley
Review: Karl Bergemann
Joelle Jesson is a modern-day anomaly. An editor by trade, she’s well-respected in her industry, to the point of near celebrity status, yet her entire persona hinges on a teenage-like set of dampened insecurities and a neurotic desire to be loved.
Her world is rocked by back-to-back catastrophes.
First, she loses her job. Then, her boss, the same man that fired her — who she seems to be hit-and-miss infatuated with — dies at his desk, leaving her with more questions than answers.
This sets in motion a series of events that sees our protagonist bouncing off the walls of a love triangle as she searches for the truth.
Concurrently, in a storyline running almost surreptitiously in the background, we meet Tron, a self-indulgent author with a taste for the high life. Where does he fit in with all the hullabaloo?
Sidley does something so immediately enticing with his work, writing with a devastating omniscience both from within and knowingly outside of the text.
He even references stylistic points in the books Joelle edits while using the same styles in his own writing — it makes for riveting reading as you start noticing the key strategies he has already mentioned to you as a reader but of which our characters are as yet unaware.
His strength lies in making you more intrigued with the interaction and personal profiles of his characters and wondering what will come next in their immediate exploits than with the actual overarching theme of “whodunnit”, something I haven’t encountered in quite the same way in other works that deal with similar murder mysteries, so it was a refreshing take on the genre.
Overall, this is a great read. I didn’t laugh as much as the cover blurb suggested I might, but that is not to say Sidley doesn’t have an inherently witty approach to his work. It just, in a sense, means he has a better grasp of creating insight (into certain, fragile, parts of the human psyche) and eliciting intrigue rather than necessarily trying to crack jokes.
You may recognise some parts of each character in yourself, but don’t fret, I think that’s the point.
Two lucky readers can each win a copy of Leaving Word. To enter, send an email with your name and phone number to email@example.com before midnight on Sunday March 29.