Book Reviews

The Witnesses Are Gone by Joel Lane

What Da Cover Says: Moving into an old and decaying house, Martin Swann discovers a box of video cassettes in the garden shed. One of them is a bootleg copy of a morbid and disturbing film by obscure French director, Jean Rien.

The discovery leads Martin on a search for the director’s other films, and for a way to understand Rien’s filmography, drawing him away from his home and his lover into a shadowy realm of secrets, rituals and creeping decay. An encounter with a crazed film journalist in Gravesend leads to drug-fuelled visions in Paris – and finally to the Mexican desert where a grim revelation awaits.

The Witnesses Are Gone is a first-hand account of a journey into the darkest parts of the underworld – a look behind the screen on which our collective nightmares play.

What I Says: What a disturbing book this was, I feel I have been on an epic journey, dragged along with the main character as his reality gets twisted and his life becomes corrupted the more he looks for the films of the mysterious Jean Rien. The book is narrated by Martin Swann, after discovering a disturbing film in the shed of his new home he becomes obsessed by finding out more about it’s director, his journey takes him to Scotland, Paris and Mexico, the further from Birmingham he gets the more the decay sets in. The reader is left wondering what is real and what is in Swann’s drug filled mind, the paranoia in the book really grabs you.

Whilst the story is happening Joel Lane gives the reader his political opinion of what is happening at the time, the imminent invasion of Iraq looking for those “hidden weapons of mass destruction”, the media spin on events to promote the war as a good thing and that they are all terrorists over there and there is a wonderful description of President Bush and how you can tell what sort of man he is from his eyes. I would have loved to have read what Lane thought of the messed up world we are living in now.

The writing is incredibly vivid and at times I did think I was viewing a movie (almost David Lynch in style) and it really does get under your skin, I’ve just been reading this out in the sun and yet still felt the cold in me bones. Lane truly was a master of words and gone way too soon.

Thanks to Influx Press for this copy, you can pre-order ca copy of the book from HERE:

2 thoughts on “The Witnesses Are Gone by Joel Lane

  1. Nice review!! I haven’t read this one. It’s fascinating that influx are releasing a lot of his stuff again. He used to be my best mate back at school in the 70s and we continued corresponding through university (by letter in those days), me at York and him at Cambridge. We disagreed a lot about politics. But we always talked and talked about writing and books and he was a lovely guy who sadly suffered a lot with his health. I lost touch with him in the 80s which was a great shame. I actually wrote a blog post about him on my website!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. This is the third book of his I’ve read and have loved each one. I always thought he might have been intense in real life, too scary for me to have approached him 🙂 It’s great that influx are re-issuing his work or I would have missed out the experience.


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