Let me start by introducing you to the author himself.
Mark West was born in Northamptonshire in 1969 and now lives there with his wife Alison and their young son Matthew. Since discovering the small press in 1998 he has published over eighty short stories, two novels (In The Rain With The Dead and Conjure), a novelette (The Mill), a chapbook (What Gets Left Behind), a collection (Strange Tales) and two novellas (Drive, which was nominated for a British Fantasy Award and The Lost Film).
Away from writing, he enjoys reading, walking, cycling, watching films and playing Dudeball with his son.
So now you know a little bit about the man behind the words here are my reviews.
Drive is a chilling tale of what happens when one man helps out a stranger in a strange town.
David offers friend of a friend Nat a lift home after meeting at a party, while at the same time a group of youths are cruising around the town of Gaffney in a stolen Audi, music blaring, looking for trouble.
The joyriders are either drunk or high on drugs and they begin their late night reign of terror by toying with a pizza delivery guy out on his moped. When they've had their fun with him they try to abduct a young girl outside a kebab shop but it's not until they try to mow down a group of women crossing the street that they encounter David and Nat at a set of traffic lights and the real terror begins.
For a novella Drive packs one hell of a punch. Both David and Nat's characters are developed enough that you can empathise with them, which is no easy feat in a novella. I was reading with a real sense of trepidation, I knew something was going to happen, it was just a case of what, when and how. Just when I thought that David and Nat were safe. . . . . . boom, boom, boom can be heard again from the Audi's stereo or the headlights reappear in the rear view mirror. This is one thriller that will make your heart race and leave you breathless.
What Gets Left Behind is the story of Mike who finds himself back in his home town where he suffered a traumatic event when he was younger.
After visiting his then best friends grave he finds himself searching out the scene of the incident, an old disused warehouse.
Back in the eighties when Mike was a small boy out playing with his best friend Geoff, they run into a group of bullies and seek solace in a warehouse. At a time when the media is full of reports about the Rainy Day Abductor the pair make a terrifying discovery and the results still haunt Mike.
When he arrives at the location he decides that now is the time to finally lay the demons of his past to rest so he ventures in and it's not long before the atmosphere shifts becoming tense and oppressive.
This is a tale about growing up, regrets and loss. The descriptions are so vivid that I felt that I was in the warehouse with Mike, tentatively opening doors, not knowing what would greet me on the other side but luckily I wasn't and after reading the last word I could put my kindle down, breathe a sigh of relief and draw my own conclusion as to exactly what happened to Mike.
Last, but by no means least, we have The Mill, a wonderfully written novellette about a young widower struggling to deal with the death of his wife Nicola.
Michael has lost his focus in life the way that people do after the death of a loved one, lack of concentration, insomnia, strange dreams and hearing and seeing his wife. It's only when he attends a bereaved partner's group and picks up on a seemingly throw away comment made by someone in the group that he begins to think more about his dreams of The Mill.
Combining a chilling atmosphere as well as developing a character that will tug on a readers heartstrings is a hard task, but that's exactly what Mr West has done in this moving but creepy story. The supernatural touches just completed the story for me and made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.
So there you have it, three reviews for three fantastic short but gripping reads. I was lucky enough to receive all three books from Mark West in exchange for honest reviews after meeting him at a blogger/author event in London last month. I enjoyed the books so much I asked him if he was currently working on anything that I could share with you all and this was his response:
"There are indeed - 2016 is shaping up quite nicely for me. Aside from some short story appearances (which are always fun), I also have two solo projects. In the summer, Stormblade Productions are publishing - in print, ebook and audio editions - my novella “Polly”, which is another of my forays into dark thriller territory (following “Drive”). It’s about a woman who discovers, on the eve of her 20th anniversary, that her marriage isn’t what she thinks it is and flees to Paris for the weekend. Initial feedback on it has been very good. Due to launch at FantasyCon in October is another novella, which is untitled at the moment - I’ve just started writing it - but concerns a group of old college friends who decide to explore an old factory. This is me back to the horror genre, with some scary bits, plenty of suspense and a bit of gruesome violence.
Once the horror novella is finished, I’m planning to start working on a new novel and, taking the lead from domestic noir, it’s going to be a dark, psychological piece. I have the lead character and one set piece but it’s fun putting things together slowly and seeing if they stack up or not."
After reading Mark's work I'm excited to hear that there is more on the way soon and I would highly recommend that you give one of the above little beauties a try as I'm sure you won't regret it!
If you want to find out more about Mark and his work he can be contacted through his website at www.markwest.org.uk and is also on Twitter as @MarkEWest
Once again with kind thanks to author Mark West for the review copies.