Author Tags: Forestry
Jackie Bateman commenced her trilogy of thrillers about a suspected serial killer named Oliver with the oddly titled Nondescript Rambunctious (Anvil, 2011). The novel gets its name from a secret club called NondescriptRambunctious.com that is managed by the Scottish suspect.
Bateman continued to explore "sociopathic depravity" and contemporary society's desensitization to violence with Savour (Anvil 2014), a second novel that has the predacious Oliver tracking a young woman named Lizzy who has fled to London from Scotland to start her life anew. Trying to put drugs, crime and the disappearance of her mother behind her, Lizzy is unaware she has become the focus for Oliver's attention. "She belongs to him now, as he battles with his need to protect her — and the burning desire to take her soul."
Jackie Bateman was born in England but had a nomadic childhood in Kenya, "with a smattering of Nigeria and Malawi in between." She came to Vancouver in 2003 and lives on the North Shore with her family. Her first novel Nondescript Rambunctious has been translated into Dutch.
Nondescript Rambunctious (Anvil, 2011) 978-1-897535-70-7 $20
Savour (Anvil 2014)
Savour: The Obsessions of a Murderer by Jackie Bateman (Anvil Press $20.00)
from Cherie Theissen
At sixteen, lizzy has been through a lot. When she was twelve, her mother disappeared and no one else wanted Lizzy. At thirteen, she took off for London with her boyfriend, leaving Dalbegie, Scotland. Nobody reported her missing.
On the streets of London, Lizzy knows how to handle herself and keeps a close eye on her less streetwise friend, Natalie, as they work their Soho fruit stalls.
One of the nasty people in Dalbegie has followed Lizzy to London. Both protector and predator, Oliver is a sociopathic serial killer who is obsessed with Lizzy as he had been obsessed with her mother.
That’s the setup for Jackie Bateman’s Savour: The Obsessions of a Murderer, Bateman’s follow-up to Nondescript Rambunctious (Anvil, 2011), Book One in her Lizzy Trilogy. The first novel won the SFU Writer’s Studio First Book Competition.
Both novels explore sociopathic depravity and contemporary society’s desensitization to violence.
With time and wealth on his hands, Oliver is a stalker who organizes “viewings” for a select group of psychopaths, including Helen, who knew Oliver from Dalbegie. They both worked at, of all things, a cat rescue facility. Helen is about to get a surprise from Steve, an amiable loser capable of murder.
In Savour, rank-smelling alleys are festooned with human waste and vomit. We visit hovels where the city’s castaway derelicts live. Worse, we are dragged into Helens and Oliver’s minds.
“I wanted to make Oliver complex in that he likes order and control,” says Bateman. “He feels that he owns Lizzy, has power over her, and doesn’t want anyone else to have her. He battles with this paradox where he wants to kill her—but at the same time, to protect her.
“Oliver likes the feeling he gets from killing and that kind of person is the worst kind, because they never get found.”
Such nefariousness is not entirely fanciful. When Bateman lived in Edinburgh, there was an extremely violent incident in the flat below her.
“When the police came,” she recalls, “they asked if I was okay and what I was doing there. I didn’t know what they meant—but they said if I knew who else was living in my street, I would be packing up and moving. That stuck with me. Do you really know your neighbours?”
Because Savour deals with such a young protagonist and there is a surprising lack of any sexual references—given its dark subject matter—this book could have been aimed at a youth market, but Bateman says it’s definitely adult fiction. “It’s a touch too dark and full of swearing to be categorized as YA,” she says, “although I can see older teenagers enjoying my novels because of Lizzy.
“Something terrible happening in life can result in devastating consequences. We’ve all seen it happen to someone we know, someone’s daughter, to a friend—or to ourselves. It resonates no matter how old we are.”
As with its predecessor, Savour comfortably slips between four narrators, Lizzy, Helen, Steve and Oliver, but only Oliver speaks out in the first person. We begin to observe Lizzy, for example, from his eyes. We’re forced into his head.
The final installment of the trilogy, Straight Circles, could be available next year. Meanwhile her entire trilogy will be translated and published in the Netherlands and France later this year.
Cherie Thiessen regularly reviews fiction from Pender Island.