Bernard Taylor – Mother’s Boys
Posted by demonik on August 22, 2007
Bernard Taylor – Mother’s Boys (Grafton, 1988)
“We don’t want a new mummy”
Robert and Judith have split up, Robert having custody of their four children. He remains at their home in Swindon, his wife moving to London. Judith dotes on her eldest sons, Kester and Michael, having little time for Ben and Daisy, and she has the favoured pair stay with her on several occasions while the little ones stay with their father. Finding her new-found independence far from ideal, she seeks reconciliation with her husband, but he announces his intention to wed his girlfriend, Netta.
Furious, Judith sets about turning her boys against the “usurper” and, in the repulsive fifth chapter, actually seduces 13 year old Kester. Kester has already displayed signs of a strong, sadistic streak (fed by his ma’s discources on famous murder cases) and, when the bird the kids have bought their mother as a birthday present dares to nip her, he gives a vivid demonstration of his capacity for violence. This leads to more animal torture, and when Netta accepts Robert’s marriage proposal, you can’t help but wonder if she’s not signing her own death warrant.
How Netta comes to be tied to a chair for almost the entire duration of the second half of the book isn’t entirely convincing, but what follows is. With the “condemned prisoner” at Kester’s mercy, Taylor is utterly unflinching in piling horror upon horror until the last, dreadful brutality, as pathetic in many ways as it is inevitable.
“Mother’s Boy’s” treads very similar territory to “Let’s Go Play At The Adams'” (a similarity re-enforced by the broken dolly on the cover), so close in fact that it borders on plagiarism. By no means my favourite Taylor novel – that would be “The Moorstone Sickness” with “Sweetheart, Sweetheart” close behind – this is still a very effective, uncomfortable variation on the “Fatal Attraction” theme.