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Sunday 9 December 2018

‘Amnesia Nights’ by Quinton Skinner

Published by Fentum Press,
5 July 2018.
ISBN: 978-1-909572-08-9

The beautifully written and classically simple prose so disarmingly presented in Amnesia Nights provides a perfect foil for the highly complicated, convoluted and anything but straightforward workings of John Wright’s troubled mind.

John comes from a poor background: his father vanished when was small and he spent much of his childhood worrying that his alcoholic mother would burn their home down.  Small wonder he has a nervous disposition, no friends, and occasionally experiences paranormal phenomena.  He was however bright enough to persuade a generous benefactor to award him an all-expenses paid scholarship to Harvard.

Whilst at Harvard John falls in love with the beautiful Iris Kateran whose father, Karl Kateran, is one of the richest men in the US. Iris returns John’s love. Before long they are living together, and John is enjoying the lifestyle and trappings of the rich and privileged. At Iris’s suggestion John starts calling himself Jack.  Around this time Jack makes his one and only friend, Frank Lee, an economics student at Harvard.

Karl Kateran lives in LA, and after John, Iris, and Frank Lee graduate the three of them move to Los Angeles where they set up a small investment company that is bankrolled by Karl. The billionaire dotes on his daughter, controls her as much as possible, and dislikes Jack, whom he considers isn’t good enough for his daughter.  For his part John/Jack hates Karl.

Things soon begin to go downhill.  Jack fears that Iris is sleeping with Frank Lee, whilst Frank makes a complete hash of their company’s finances.  In a fit of rage Jack goes round to Frank’s house where he injures Frank and believes that he kills Iris.  But does he? This is the problem that Jack spends the second half of this book trying to persuade his mind to answer.  It is not as simple as it might be because Iris, whether alive or dead, has vanished into thin air.

A couple of years and several more inexplicable events later, Jack still has only a very hazy memory about what happened on the day he believes he might have killed Iris.  Just to confuse the issue there are lots of other things that he remembers perfectly well. Then one day Iris appears in front of Jack at the local library.  She is brain damaged but still loves him.
 It is difficult, bordering on impossible, for Jack, to know how much – if any - of what he remembers, and experiences actually happens.  Will there be some form of contentment ahead for John and Iris, or are most of his troubled memories merely a figment of his wayward imagination? 

In Amnesia Nights Quinton Skinner portrays the anguish of love, the loneliness and self-doubts suffered by the young with astonishing clarity and truthfulness of tone. Anyone who loves psychological suspense will enjoy this little jewel of a book. 
Reviewer: Angela Crowther.

Quinton Skinner is the author of the novels Amnesia Nights, 14 Degrees Below Zero, and Odd One Out. He is also the author of the nonfiction books Do I Look Like a Daddy To You and VH1 Behind the Music: Casualties of Rock. He has also worked as a magazine editor and communications consultant. He currently lives in Minneapolis.

Angela Crowther is a retired scientist.  She has published many scientific papers but, as yet, no crime fiction.  In her spare time Angela belongs to a Handbell Ringing group, goes country dancing and enjoys listening to music, particularly the operas of Verdi and Wagner.

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