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.