This gripping novella starts at break neck pace, and the pace is not the only breakage that happens. Frank is riding his bike home when a man walks out of a house and, without warning, slams him with a baseball bat. He wakes up, injured and tied up by a psychopath. Said psychopath has always wanted to see what it would be like to torture someone to death, so it’s not Frank’s lucky day.
The story is told from a first person perspective with really only two characters in the book. The psychopath loves to hear himself talk, so we have his verbal monologue and then the inner monologue of Frank, living through this terrible experience. We certainly get to feel Frank’s physical pain and fear at the awful situation he is in. There is some torture in the book as you might expect given the premise, so it’s not for the squeamish. It could have been worse bearing in mind the equipment our torturer lays out before Frank with relish.
I liked the claustrophobic setting and the wider location of a council estate (public housing) in England. I’ve had my own experiences dodging nut-cases on estates so it brought back some memories. Thankfully nothing like this happened to me! Lifeline is perfect for a one sitting read, allowing you to go on Frank’s journey with him in just a few hours. There was one thing that bothered me about the psychopath’s lack of thoroughness but I’ll leave it at that.
Reviewed by Andrew Tadman. @thebooksofblood