Frazer Lee “The Jack in the Green” Review

Posted: March 29, 2015 in Reviews, Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

jackinthegreen

BOOK INFO

Length: 272 Pages

Publisher: Samhain Horror

Release Date: October 1, 2013

Review copy provided by author in exchange for an honest review

Tom McRae is a man who is definitely down on his luck. His marriage is crumbling around him, he is plagued by nightmares from his childhood after witnessing a brutal attack that left him orphaned and is content with avoiding the spotlight in his mundane office job for The Consortium Inc. However, one day he is finally called into his boss Mathers’ office. Tom is perplexed because no one gets a glimpse of Mathers’ office, The Chairman of Consortium is an elusive man who always making address via the Internet and is hardly in the office. When he gets there, he is immediately aware of why he was chosen. Mathers has a special assignment for Tom. His name implies a Scottish ancestry and Mathers wants him to use that to his advantage and weave himself into the fabric of the small Scottish village of Douglass in order to negotiate a land purchase for the company’s biofuels division. Mathers believes Tom’s name and ability to assess risks make him a secret weapon in their attempt to make money. When he goes to meet with Monroe from the legal department, who already visited Douglass, he is shocked to hear a crash and witnesses Monroe’s body sprawled on the lower floor. As he attempts to comfort Monroe, the lawyer offers an ominous warning – “He’s in the trees…he’s…waiting….”

Tom is tasked with heading to Douglass with his co-worker Dieter, a man he cannot stand, serving as his driver. The trip starts off with a protest in which their car is surrounded and it takes an act of desperation to escape unscathed. Once Tom and Dieter arrive in Douglass, they check in to The Firs, the only lodge that is still open in the secluded village. Holly, an employee at The Firs, introduces Tom to the legend that seemingly drives the town of Douglass. She takes him to a secluded clearing where he witnesses two giant firs joined at the root that are dubbed by residents as the “Jack Tree and Jill Tree” tree. She details the folklore behind the tree and explains that this weekend is Sow-when, a holiday that is ingrained in the fabric of Douglass and brings the seemingly sleepy village to life. Residents set up booths to sell homemade food and decorate their homes with pumpkins, squashes and scarecrows of all different designs. Even though it breathes life into the town, you get a sense of unease that something dangerous is lurking beneath the surface.

Tom slowly seems to become a part of the Douglass community, but a series of hair-raising events and his recurring nightmares put his standing within the community in jeopardy and nothing in Douglass is quite what it seems.

The characterization in The Jack in the Green is excellent and Lee’s portrayal of Tom creates an intriguing main character that is more complex than he seems on first glance. While he is a man who seems to be plagued by fear and indifference, Tom occasionally exhibits an inner strength. Throughout his interaction with stakeholders in Douglass, such as Lithgoe, he exhibits a tenacity for striking deals and mitigating risks that is a stark contrast to how he handles his personal life. Then there is the mysterious hermit of Douglass, Cosmo. Cosmo is an interesting character, an ex-military man who  has taken up residence in a ramshackle cabin located among the village’s famed fir trees and attempts to atone for the atrocities he has committed. I don’t know if it is intentional, but it seems like Lee is laying the foundation for an underlying mythology that weaves its way into each novel’s DNA. The secretive, multi-national corporation known as The Consortium makes an appearance in The Jack in the Green and many readers will remember the company from Lee’s debut The Lamplighters. Whether it is intentional or purely a coincidence, I still thought it was an interesting story element as some of the events regarding the corporation raise some interesting questions.

I was once again impressed with Lee’s cinematic approach to storytelling, which manages to transport the reader into the world he has created. That is the strength of Lee’s attention to building up the setting in his novels. He takes idyllic locations – like the lavish luxury of Meditrine Island in The Lamplighters or the lush forests of Douglass, Scotland in this novel – and manages to warp them with terrifying evil. However, despite the sinister nature that lurks in each of these locales, you can’t help but feel captivated by their portrayal.

I have enjoyed all of Lee’s work, but The Jack in the Green is by far my favorite! Lee strikes the perfect balance between the psychological horror that plays out as Tom’s nightmares seem to bleed into reality and vicious violence and gore. Lee only doles out the gore when necessary and it serves as a jolt to the nervous system. Much like The Lamplighters, he lures you in with an atmospheric setting and keeps the reader guessing on where the events are headed. All along I thought I knew where the story was going, but once again Lee incorporates an abrupt twist that changes everything I thought I knew about the novel. Some readers may feel the twist comes out of nowhere, but once everything is revealed, it actually makes a lot of sense. Honestly, I was kicking myself for not figuring it out sooner!  The Jack in the Green has supernatural undertones, but the horror comes from the real world evils and depravity that bubble to the surface toward the novel’s conclusion.

If you are a fan of a good psychological horror novel and don’t mind a little gore, The Jack in the Green is a novel you will definitely want to add to your collection!

Rating: 5/5

LINKS

Frazer Lee’s Official Website

Samhain Horror’s Official Website

Purchase The Jack in the Green on Amazon

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Comments
  1. frazerlee says:

    Reblogged this on FrazerLee.com and commented:
    The Horror Bookshelf gives The Jack in the Green 5 stars and says…

    “The Jack in the Green is a novel you will definitely want to add to your collection!”

  2. […] Here’s what one reviewer said about the book: “I have enjoyed all of Frazer Lee’s work, but The Jack in the Green is by far my favorite! Lee strikes the perfect balance between psychological horror…and vicious violence and gore.” (Rating: 5 out of 5 stars, The Horror Bookshelf) […]

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