Millie Spark can kill anyone.
A special effects make-up artist, her talent is to create realistic scenes of bloody violence.
Then, one day, she wakes to find her lover dead in her bed.
Twenty-five years later, her sentence for murder served, Millicent is ready to give up on her broken life – until she meets troubled film student and reluctant petty thief Jerry.
Together, they begin to discover that all was not what it seemed on that fateful night . . . and someone doesn’t want them to find out why.
I had only read Black Widow by Chris Brookmyre before and I found that one so very, very clever (you can read my review here) that it made it into my top 10 the first year after starting the blog. So when I saw The Cut and read the first line of the novel (‘Millie Spark can kill anyone’) I was immediately intrigued and wanted more than only this sublime catchphrase.
Millie and Jerry proved to be a brilliant and dynamic combination in this novel, even if you wouldn’t put them together at first sight. On the one hand there’s Millie (Millicent) who is in her seventies and lives with two other older ladies after her release in prison where she spent 25 years after being arrested for killing her partner. At the start of the novel she isn’t anyone’s best friend, her reactions keep everyone at a distance but at the end of the novel she’s transformed into a much friendlier woman, someone who can make jokes and who can have fun after all, and it might just be that Jerry played a role in making that transformation happen. Jerry is a student who studies film. He’s always been extremely interested in horror movies (or video nasties as they are called) and he knows just about every movie title and every actor. The story starts with alternating plotlines introducing these two characters and it was fun to see how their lives intersect and seeing them discover how much they have in common in their passion for the job on a movie set for Millie and love for the end product the actual film, for Jerry.
The story really kicks off when Millie – in Jerry’s company – finds a photo of her boyfriend of the time and doesn’t know who the other people in the photo are. A quick phone call only raises more questions about the night the picture was taken and unwittingly she happens to draw the attention to herself by someone who doesn’t wish her well exactly. She and Jerry don’t really have a choice but to embark on a thrilling and dangerous adventure in search of answers about who her dead boyfriend really was, while trying to figure out who is coming after them and why.
The Cut is a story that plunges the reader into the movie business, horror movies in particular, and it entails everything from a little history about how the genre came to life to urban legends, while also making you feel as if you’re a fly on the wall on a movie set. Even though it’s not my genre to watch at all, I thought it was very interesting to read about.
The status of horror movies is negative by association. There are rumours of people dying who watched a horror movie or worked on one, and have you never heard media say that crimes that were committed stem from watching this type of movies? In the book they also talk about some cult movie, Mancipium, which was never shown because it’s supposed to be too disturbing for the public. Is it a myth, is it real, who knows? It does play a role in the story but not how I had anticipated at all. I did struggle a little bit following the political influences involved and the powers financing a movie and I thought this would ultimately lead me to the path of destruction and danger but I could never have been more wrong so you don’t need to worry when it sounds a bit complicated because the author created some wonderful red herrings only to lead you to the truth in the end, and what a stunning and shocking revelation it is! Much to my satisfaction, I loved how the story ramped up on speed and tension and the story turns out to be something completely different than I had thought, but in the best way.
The Cut is another great book by Chris Brookmyre, it’s one to sink your teeth in! Very compelling, highly recommended. I can’t wait to read more of his books after reading this one!
I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher via Netgalley. This is still my honest opinion.