Book review: Cross Country Murder Song

Philip Wilding’s Cross Country Murder Song.

Author: Philip Wilding
Publisher: Jonathan Cape

One moment in time can indeed have a significant effect on the lives of many, and in the case of Cross Country Murder Song’s protagonist, being kidnapped as a child and stored in a box would be a moment he would never forget, unsurprisingly, and one that would change the lives of others immensely. Combined with an unstable upbringing, this event would chip away at the psyche of the man we are faced with here, a man who has been left disturbed and equally unaware of the value of human life. After recreating the same kidnapping he experienced, resulting in the death of an innocent person, our unnamed man goes on the run across America, haunted by events of his past and causing mayhem and sadness in his wake.

Told in a non-linear fashion, Philip Wilding’s novel interlinks passages telling of the driver’s fraught past with the effect he has on the lives he crosses. Including a couple who seek comfort in cannibalism, an ex-astronaut, a porn star who can no longer perform, and a man torn apart with grief from his wife’s death, each character we come across is strange and curious in very different ways. The short time we spend with them means they are never fully fleshed out, but Wilding does a great job of engrossing us in their tales right from the start.

With the right balance of involving description and tense moments, Cross Country Murder Song never flags, as we move from one scenario to the next, all the while learning more about the driver on his course of destruction. Wilding sometimes fails to make the events as dramatic as they could have been, but it is a nice touch that the blood and gore is never focused on for too long, as the consequences and emotional impact of the situations are given the most prominence. Overall, despite feeling quite fragmented at times due to its continual hopping from one person and time to another, Cross Country Murder Song is a disturbing tale of a man uncaring of all those around him. This is one driver you don’t ever want to honk your horn at.

[isbn name=”Cross Country Murder Song”]978-0224089173[/isbn]