cover image Somebody’s Voice

Somebody’s Voice

Ramsey Campbell. Flame Tree, $24.95 (352p) ISBN 978-1-787586-08-6

Bestselling British mystery author Alex Grand, the protagonist of this disappointing suspense novel from World Fantasy Award winner Campbell, has his career threatened after ToM, a trans individual, pickets a book-signing of Grand’s. ToM complains that since Grand hasn’t changed his gender, he shouldn’t have written a book in which a woman transitions to male because she’s been abused. After Grand confronts his critics on social media, the controversy leads his publisher to propose that his next book be a collaboration with someone who needs a ghostwriter to help tell that person’s story. Carl Bachelor offers Grand a chance to relate a factual account of childhood abuse—by both Carl’s father and a priest, which led the person assigned female at birth, Carla, to become Carl. Grand agrees, only to find that his coauthor’s memories may be less than reliable, resulting in more controversy for Grand. The nature of Carl’s “truth” remains uncertain, but otherwise there’s no mystery as such. Unremarkable prose is matched by thinly drawn characters in a novel that may strike readers as suggesting sexual trauma is the only, or major, reason for changing gender. Campbell has done better. (June)