Master, by Thomas M. Watt: A Review

What happens when dream and reality become one and the same, and you have no control over either?master

Ex-footballer Phil Gordon has chosen a life as husband, father, and pool cleaner over the possibility of NFL fame and fortune. He’s doing ok with the inevitable negative comments this decision engenders, but when a figure calling himself Master invades his dreams, making the same negative comments and threatening Phil’s wife, he begins to be frightened. In quickly escalating action, it becomes clear that Master has control of Phil and his family in his waking life as well as in his dreams, but is he real, or a construction of Phil’s subconscious, channelling repressed doubts and regrets about his life choices?

Master is a short book, 139 pages, with rapid, sometimes violent action, told from the first-person viewpoint of the protagonist. Its tone fits the confusion and fragmentation of Phil’s sudden immersion into a world gone mad, a writing style that is the equivalent of the hand-held camera effects of various recent films. In many ways, the book reminded me of a film script, strong on dialogue and descriptions of action, brief in descriptions of setting and characters, and bringing the action to a finale that completes the story but allows for a sequel.

Phil’s actions – and those of Master – unfortunately do not strain credibility in today’s world; the almost casual violence Master demands of Phil and practices himself exists in headlines weekly. Phil’s insistence that he is not a man of violence has little influence on his actions when his family is threatened; his motivation is clear. I had more difficulty fully understanding the motivation and behaviour of Ashley, an old girlfriend of Phil’s who is enmeshed in the unfolding events.

SPOILERS BEYOND THIS POINT!

My niggles? The technology that lies behind Master’s manipulation of Phil’s dreams is not really fully explained, and I felt was glossed over; a more detailed explanation of the technology and its effects could have added to the tension and drama of the narrative. The first half of the penultimate chapter reads more as an epilogue, tying up loose ends in brief explanatory paragraphs, before returning to the story. In addition, there were a few small production errors in the copy I was sent, but no more than are found in many books, both traditionally and electronically published.

Master will appeal to readers who like fast-paced thrillers with a strong psychological aspect. My rating is three stars. Master is available from Amazon.

The author provided me with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed here are mine alone

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