An everyday tale of psychopathic mountain folk: the feeble, the febrile, the flat-out freaky, Corrosion seizes the reader by the entrails and drags you into its warped and intensely credible reality. This is a story set on the extreme borders of modern American noir. It nuzzles up to the raw edge of horror, bleeds into the convoluted depths of the twisted psychological thriller. It’s a crossover, a genre-defying blend, blurring multiple boundaries, and is all the better for being that little bit beyond definition.
Corrosion has all the elements of a traditional noir tale: a weary traveller in a roadside tavern, an outsider, who comes to the rescue of a damsel in distress when she’s being oppressed by a wife-beating brute. A femme fatale who bends the unsuspecting protagonist to her will and entirely for her own benefit. The rapid narrative ramps up the violence, murder and mystery typical of true noir – and that’s only in the first half…
Just when you think you have the measure of Corrosion, author Jon Bassoff reveals another nasty layer lurking below, one which drags you down into superstition, insanity, and whimpering women kept helpless in the root cellar. Written from the viewpoints of the two key characters, the relentless prose gives the reader no respite as the personalities of the key characters fragment and the superficial appearance of civilisation is stripped away.
The writing is honed to a menacing edge; distilling characters and situations to a single descriptive phrase of appalling insight. There’s no flab in this novel, just an unremitting momentum which barely pauses to note the skeleton-faced preacher with his blind eyes and rotting teeth, or the orange-haired whore with her bubblegum breath. They and other incidental characters surface from the cacophony of chaos and then submerge into its swirling darkness, while the protagonists converge at the chilling conclusion.
This is definitely not a novel to start late at night; you’ll be haunted by the imagery into the dark hours. It’s grim and utterly gripping.