Sunday, May 15, 2011

Finishing Touches

Dr. Tom Sutherland is vacationing alone in England before he begins his career as a Doctor in the United States.  Traveling alone through London he meet a man named, Dr. Roger Nordhagen in a small dive bar.  Nordhagen entices Tom to see a private London.  Tom travels deeper and deeper into a world where fantasy is reality, and importance is measured by desire.  After meeting the stunning and intelligent Lina Rivachol, Tom becomes unsure of what he truly desires. 
“”Everything should be a fantasy,” Lina repeated.  “People have been trying to make a go of what they call ‘the real world’ for thousands of years now, and it really hasn’t worked.  I think reality should be outlawed.””
Finishing Touches is a smoothly encompassing read that creates a palpable sense of subtle building dread.  The London of Tom’s experience becomes a character into itself.  Tessier creates a city with a surreal sense that borders on the supernatural.  Discerning what is true is Tom’s Journey.    
The story unfolds in a first person perceptive.  All of Tom’s thoughts, desires, and confusions are shared with the reader.  The prose’s tone recalls the works of Hammet and Chandler. Tom travels from bars to private clubs with Dr. Nordhagen.  The atmosphere of these establishments becomes clear enough to touch.    
Finishing Touches plays with many of the conventions from multiple genres, ranging from erotic thriller to slashers.  The character of Lina Rivachol could be labeled as a femme fatale, expect our perception of her in this role is constantly challenged.  Lina is far too developed and incitefull to be such a clearly clich├ęd character.  The same can be said of Dr. Roger Nordhagen.  The idea of the devil figure corrupting a fine young man, dragging him into an evil world distracts both Tom and the reader from what is going on in actuality. 
With so few characters in the story, Tessier takes the time to flesh them out.  Their desires and fears become clear and are the driving force of the story.  In a genre of often staggering body counts, it is refreshing to find a story where what could be, is where the horror derives from.  The catharsis of Tom’s journey will not disappoint invested readers.
Tessier’s book succeeds where many other similar novels fail.  The novel’s final reveal is unpredictable and true to the story without being a letdown or simple gimmick.  Each scene grows progressively tenser, as Tessier teases his readers with just enough information to keep them completely hooked.   

In the End;
Tessier’s novel is a slow burn mystery with an intriguing central premise.  The city of London comes alive through Tom’s fears and longings.  It is a place of untold pleasures, and enticing enigmas.  The tone and atmosphere that Tessier realizes through the city is an amazing accomplishment.  The surreal atmosphere creates an environment where anything seems possible, and yet it is always surprising.  Anyone searching for an unconventional emotional thriller could easily do far worse.   I strongly encourage you to join Tom Sutherland on his journey.
Additional note; 
Some editions of this book contain a synopsis that traces the entire story beginning to end.  While this review may seem vague, it is done so as to keep the mystery of the story alive.