Marianne's Reviews > The Spiral

The Spiral by Iain Ryan
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The Spiral is the third novel by Australian author, Iain Ryan. She knows they’re not expecting her at the meeting. Dr Erma Bridges flies thirty-four hours from Spain to make it: she’s certain that the complaint against her has been instigated by Jenny Wasserman, the research assistant whose delay in transcription is holding up the completion of Erma’s book on YA fiction and Gamebooks. Jenny‘s not there, of course, isn’t anywhere Erma expects to find her: their last encounter was not friendly.

Hours later, she is roused from the sleep of the dead to find Jenny in her bedroom wielding a gun, which she tries to empty into Erma, then uses to batter her. Suffering two gunshot wounds, Erma then witnesses Jenny shooting herself in the head.

Fast forward a year. Erma returns from a recuperation and fight-training vacation in Thailand. She still has no idea why Jenny tried to kill her; the police tell her to forget it, Jenny was drug-affected, move on.

But when she is given a box of Jenny’s possessions, she decides to create a timeline of Jenny’s last months: she might find out what Jenny was thinking; and she might get hold of the missing interview with her idol author that she desperately needs for her book. This leads to quite a bit of risky behaviour on Erma’s part, and a lot of violence, all against a background of several young female Uni students going missing.

Erma is not a particularly likeable character: she’s rude, sullen and belligerent, even with her friends, has loose morals and poor ethics (surely not de rigeur for this vintage of academic?) She apparently dreams in Choose Your Own Adventure novel format, a second-person narrative, which has the circular result of Erma dreaming about Sero the barbarian dreaming about Erma. Erma is a difficult character to care about.

By part three, the story is venturing into an unreal twist, requires a good deal of suspension of disbelief and builds to a climax filled with gratuitous violence. It’s original and probably clever, and perhaps will appeal to fans of Fight Fantasy or readers with a lot of patience or indulgence with the somewhat bizarre, readers who won’t be too confused by the dream sequence and might be able to forgive the weak ending.

Although his characters have a poor grasp of the correct use of personal pronouns considering they are meant to be creative writing students, Ryan does manage to convey the feel of perennial academia and its disconnect from the real world. A very different read that will appeal to a select audience.
This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by Echo Publishing.
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Reading Progress

December 8, 2020 – Shelved
December 8, 2020 – Shelved as: to-read
January 14, 2021 – Started Reading
January 15, 2021 –
page 51
January 16, 2021 –
page 105
January 17, 2021 –
page 155
January 18, 2021 –
page 276
January 18, 2021 – Finished Reading

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message 1: by Dale (new)

Dale Harcombe Good balanced review Marianne.

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