My extremely grateful thanks to Ella Bowman at Little Brown for an advanced reader copy of Painkiller by N.J. Fountain in return for an honest review. Painkiller was published by Sphere in paperback on 29th December 2016 and is available for purchase from all good booksellers and directly from the publisher here.
I cannot go on like this. I feel such a burden to you. You are young and can start again. You deserve that chance. By the time you read this I will be dead. Do not grieve for me, for I am now without pain.
Yours truly for ever,
Monica suffers from chronic neuropathic pain. Every second of her life is spent in agony, and she is coping with it the best she can. However, there are whole years of her life which are a blur to her.
But when she finds a suicide note, written in her handwriting, she begins to question everything. She has no memory of writing it – so who did? And if someone tried to kill her once, what’s to say they won’t try again . . .
My Review of Painkiller
Monica is in terrible pain and the medication she takes has affected her memory, but that might be the least of her worries.
Crikey Painkiller is brilliant. I was enthralled by every word of it and found it to be a fabulous thriller. I must say something about the structure because it feels perfect for the novel. The character ‘titles’ serve to break up the text physically in the same way Monica’s memory is fractured, adding to the enjoyment in the read. I liked the use of the emboldened text and italics to add layers of meaning and challenge the voracity of assertions still further so that there are many layers to the story. There’s also quite a bit of white space on the pages that seemed to me to represent the gaps in Monica’s memory so well.
Monica is such a completely convincing character and finding that she was inspired, however loosely, by a real person made the narrative even more affecting. I loved the way the cover shows a fractured and distorted person, reflecting the character we meet in the story. There’s an unreliability to all the characters; Monica, Dominic and Niall especially, and things are never quite what they seem so that I had to keep changing my perspective and shifting my position. Painkiller is incredibly entertaining because of this.
The plot is extremely well constructed leading to a satisfying ending that is unpredictable and exciting. I kept thinking of a pit of writhing snakes as I read because the story line twisted and coiled, with interesting and dramatic scenes leading me to false assumptions that I thoroughly enjoyed.
Alongside the sheer entertainment of Painkiller is a poignant and relevant theme of what happens to those suffering huge pain on a daily basis and how it affects those around them. And it’s this that helps make Painkiller such a wonderful read for me. I always look for an emotional hook and alongside the cracking pace, the exhilarating story and the credible characters there’s that added extra layer of interest that pulls in the reader and doesn’t let them go. I thought Painkiller was a cracking thriller and I can’t recommend it highly enough.
About N.J. Fountain
NJ Fountain is an award-winning comedy writer, chiefly known for his work on the radio and television show Dead Ringers. He has also contributed to programmes such as Have I Got News For You, 2DTV and the children’s sitcom Scoop. He also writes for Private Eye.
You can follow N.J. Fountain on Twitter.