Satisfying Shades Of Disturbing
There is something innately satisfying in finding an author who is able to tap into the psyche of their protagonists and antagonists in such a way that you as the reader, find yourself descending into the very realms of those characters minds. You experience their journey in a way that is visceral and satisfyingly so. In such a moodily dark setting as the one that author Philip Tucker has created for his debut novel, it becomes essential to experience rather than simply read.
In Crude Sunlight, Tucker’s deliciously disturbing psychological thriller, there is a sense of dread and foreboding that draws you in right away. There is little to comfort you in the complex tableaux that unfolds and this is definitely one of the novels strengths. Tucker succeeds in the horror that he suggests rather than the horror he explicitly portrays. It makes for a much more immersive reading experience because we as the reader will inevitably find our own imaginations fired by what we deduce from the plot points.
Comparisons to the likes of Silent Hill and The Ring have been made and I think Crude Sunlight stands well alongside those works in as much as Tucker has crafted a similar sort of textural foundation in his writing. Crude Sunlight is another one of those visually stimulating novels. There are descriptions of black and white, sound and light and texture that instantly remind one of the imagery inherent in those other works – yet Tuckers voice is resoundingly original and fresh.
Crude Sunlight is also a well crafted mystery using clues and red herrings well in keeping the reader guessing as well as invested. So much of what makes the novel work can be derived from this component. The pacing is tight, drawing upon tension and fear and propelling the story forward without laboring too long.
Tucker’s characters too, are well drawn and intriguing. Tucker’s protagonist Thomas is a flawed anti hero in the beginning, but he is dogged and as his journey progresses he evolves into a subtle hero who realizes his purpose and becomes increasingly determined as a result. I was reminded a little of Rick Deckard – a similar sort of anti-hero from the movie Bladerunner – while I was reading the novel. Julia, the ex-girlfriend of Thomas’ missing brother Henry, is also exceedingly well drawn as a conflicted and ambivalent counterpart who possesses a darkness that is revealed gradually.
Crude Sunlight is a work that is disturbing – satisfyingly so – and Philip Tucker has every reason to be proud of his debut.