Steve's Reviews > Finishing Touches

Finishing Touches by Thomas Tessier
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's review
Apr 09, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: fiction, horror
Read in January, 2006

Thomas Tessier has been called a master of "quiet" horror. Maybe so. He certainly is a smooth writer, good with pacing, dialogue and description. But when it comes to horror, he certainly yields no ground to any other writer. Actually his brand of horror is far worse. It gets into the mind, because there is a philosophy behind it. No better example of this is his short novel "Finishing Touches."

"Finishing Touches" tells the story of doctor to be Tom Sutherland. Sutherland has inherited a bit of money, and feeling he's lived in an educational "cocoon" for so many years, he's anxious to experience life before settling down to the suburban existence of a general practitioner. Events unfold in such a way however as to have him residing in London for a 6 month stay. It is there he soon meets Dr. Roger Nordhagen, who is of course insane. But the good (evil) doctor recognizes a like soul when he sees one, perhaps even one who can take his vision of "Now" to the next post modern level. Before long Tom and Dr. Nordhagen are crawling through the more exotic English clubs, and Tom soon meets Nordhagen's assistant, Lina. There is sex, which is the initial bait for Tom. And there is lots of it, but it's the kind of sex you might find in a Kubrick film. Detached, part of a larger Power game, that Tom senses the outlines of. And the game is one that is removed from any morality. Indeed, Nordhagen's whole philosophy is based upon immediate experience. And in a world where you have your Jeffrey Dahmers and Bin Ladens, who, he would say, can fault him? He just wants his piece of the Terror pie.

This is grim, unrelenting and poison filled stuff, wrapped in well-written prose. On a technical level Tessier succeeds brilliantly, which is why I'm giving this 4 stars. But if you allow for a human factor, you might want to give this a zero. Tessier is a superb connoisseur of atrocity, but for any serious follower of current events - isn't that more of the same? At some time Dr. Sutherland and Lina will encounter that question when the kicks of killing become endless reruns. And at that point, hopefully, they too will "return their tickets" to God.
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