Think Yourself Lucky by Ramsey Campbell

The protagonist of Ramsey Campbell’s new novel, David Botham, is contented with his quotidian lifestyle working at a travel agency. There is an online blog using a title he once came up with, but it is not his responsibility – it is run by someone he doesn’t know. But David’s interest in the blog is quickened when it begins to run information about several violent deaths in the city of Liverpool. It becomes imperative to him to find out who is the enigmatic online presence – but what he finds out is to have drastic consequences that will cause radical changes to his quiet life.

Although Ramsey Campbell is best known for his highly accomplished horror writing (according to the Oxford Companion to English Literature, he is “Britain’s most respected living horror writer”), most of his non-supernatural novels can be classed as crime fiction, while The Count of Eleven adroitly parodies the serial killer genre. At the beginning of The One Safe Place an American professor antagonises a Manchester motorist and attracts the wrath of his criminal family, and in Silent Children, Hector Woollie kidnaps and kills children because, having watched a sibling die of spina bifida, he can’t bear the thought of their suffering. Despite this motivation, he’s among the most monstrous of Campbell’s grotesques.

Think Yourself Lucky is a classic example of Campbell’s genre-straddling, dipping into a variety of genres. But there is one thing utterly consistent about the writer – and that is his skill at unsettling the reader on a variety of levels, from a queasy minor destabilisations to jolting revelations; and these abilities are fully exercised in the new book. Campbell inveigles us into a reluctant identification with the increasingly hapless David, and we become quite as concerned as he is to unravel the mystery of the sinister blogger. Campbell on vintage form.

Think Yourself Lucky by Ramsey Campbell is published by Flame Tree Press


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