Book Review of Dreamers by Ted Farrar
Dreamers by Ted Farrar. I have to say, the very beginning of this book is definitely different and disturbing. But by the end of Chapter 1, we see just why it is this way. In the first chapter, the lead character, Wilson Cole, is “living” a nightmare. His dreaming has, as it has with several other people, taken him into “Limbo,” neither Heaven nor Hell, but a way stop between the two. Bizarre, hideous, viciously cruel, sadistic – this world is gruesome and vividly described by the author. There, Cole witnesses a powerful “entity” known as Greensprite viciously murder another dreamer. The “demon” tells Cole that he is going to kill all these special dreamers, like himself. He wakes up.
We then learn that he has been a volunteer at the Dream Institute for some months, long with many others, of which twenty have “special” dreams similar to his own, namely visiting Limbo. When he returns to his home, an assassin attempts to murder him, but fails. And here is where it become a very fascinating read and really takes off.
Cole possesses some form of supernatural powers, in that he can by thought alone materialize various physical items, such as a ray gun. When the police arrive to investigate, they find bullet holes but no slugs. Now the murders begin to pile up. Jim, who was running the dream experiments, is killed, and Cole becomes prime suspect number one. As more and more of these dreamers and others turn up dead and the police investigate, Cole continues to be their top suspect, but he has no idea who is behind the murders. Necessity forces him to do his own investigation to find out who this supernatural killer is, along with just how does one defend against it and even stop this murderer before he can kill again.
Warning: Cole is not a character that I could identify with or even like as a person. He’s a societal scumbag, uncouth, drunken, self-centered, crass, loser who is on public dole, wholly unlikeable for many, I would suspect. Nevertheless, Cole as a character is very well done, a very believable but disgusting person. This is meant to be part horror story and it certainly is that.
That said, the story is an excellent one, well-thought out, with a surprise ending that I definitely did not see coming!
Much of story revolves around the Leeds police investigation into all these murders, rather like a murder mystery novel. I really enjoyed Inspector Alex Gumbold, who reminded me of Inspector Morse! What I found very realistic was the police incompetence of upper management, often obstructing Gumbold’s excellent detective work. I’ve seen such corruption in other institutions more times than I’d care to.
If you can survive the Prelude and first chapter, the rest of the book flows along very well. The pace of action is nicely done. I particularly liked the many references to rock bands scattered throughout. Now that I’ve finished it and have absorbed the surprise ending, I can honestly say that I missed those musical clues. Hindsight is perfect! The story is fascinating and provocative, a good read.
For British readers, I give this book a 4-star rating and encourage you to get past that first chapter. However, for US readers, you will need both a British Idioms and British Slang dictionary! Nearly every page is filled with English vernacular, some of which are almost indecipherable without looking them up. No, I’m not talking about boot (trunk) or petrol (gas), but owt and buggered, and even a US one, gollywog. (Look them up.) Because of the heavy use of “British-ism’s”, for normal US readers, I give it a 3-star rating, unless you are well versed in British idioms and slang, which makes this book a tough read for those of us on this side of the “pond.” Even so, it is still well worth reading for US readers, for the plot and action are well done.