Guest Post: The moment(s) when I realised Ira Levin was a genius by Tom Trott, author of The Forbidden Zone

Here I go spoiling you again, with another guest post from another fantastic and friendly author!

Today, in the run-up to the release of his new crime thriller, The Forbidden Zone, I am joined by Tom Trott to tell us about his love of Ira Levin‘s writing (well, most of it!).

First though, lets have a sneak peak at Tom’s latest book, which releases on 1st February, but is already available to pre-order for all you keen crime fans!

Blurb: Every summer camp has its campfire stories, and that’s all they are: stories. But not here.

On the surface, Boys Club Camp is just like every other British summer camp: strict officers, woodland games, and night-time pranks. But Tommy remembers that summer in ’97, the year he turned thirteen, when he was the only one plagued with those little niggling questions: Why does the sound of howling cut through the cold night air? Why are the officers so obsessed with the legacy of Boys Club’s long-dead founder? Why aren’t boys allowed in the east woods?

A scream heard in the night led Tommy and his friends on a journey of discovery, to solve a mystery a hundred years in the making: what is the real purpose of Boys Club? The answer could only be found in the dark heart of the woods: the Forbidden Zone. Now an adult, Tommy needs to understand what they found there. It is his last hope of saving their lives.

I love a creepy woodland mystery! I’ll be bringing you my review of The Forbidden Zone nearer to the release date, but as a long-time admirer of the book, The Stepford Wives, I was very keen to hear Tom’s thoughts on Levin’s canon. So without further preamble, here they are:

The moment(s) when I realised Ira Levin was a genius

I love Ira Levin’s novel, The Boys from Brazil, about Nazi expats in South America attempting to resurrect the Third Reich. It’s ridiculous, absolutely preposterous, but also riveting and huge amounts of fun. But there’s a chapter (or should I say a section) exactly halfway through the book that blew me away and made me realise that Levin was a genius, an absolute master, and deserves to be taught in creative writing classes, etc. etc. etc.

It almost reads like Levin got bored. He found the process of writing the book so easy that he had to test himself. And so he gives you a section of pure dialogue. No descriptions. No he said/she said, just pure dialogue. The characters have not entered the story before, and they don’t reappear, and yet we understand everything that happens. We know exactly who they are and what they’re about. And after just five pages of this, a man has convinced a woman to unwittingly plant a suicide bomb next to another man’s hospital bed. We never learn if the plan goes off. We don’t need to know.

Pure. Genius.

I read Levin’s books in the “wrong” order, and just recently I read his first novel, A Kiss Before Dying. I was less interested because I knew it wasn’t one of his high-concept thrillers, just a plain old regular crime thriller. And once again, he blew my socks off.

The novel is broken into three parts, and in the first one we follow a young man as he plots to murder his pregnant girlfriend. In the second part, someone is trying to track down this young man, only they’ve never met him and only have a description. They manage to narrow down their suspects to two young men: Gordon Gant and Dwight Powell. And it was only at this moment that I, the humble reader, realised that I had spent eighty pages from the point-of-view of this young man and yet I had absolutely no idea what his name was. And so, just as I had been completely in his shoes, I was now completely in the shoes of the person tracking him down. They interview both Gordon and Dwight, and just like them, I had no idea which one he was.

Pure. Genius.

Levin deserves to be better read, better known, better remembered, and worshipped by all who write thrillers. They’re short too. All less that three hundred pages, and The Stepford Wives is only three chapters. Three! And let’s not forget that he’s a feminist (The Stepford Wives and Rosemary’s Baby are both written from a very convincing female perspective, says this man).

Read them.

Go and read them.

Seriously. Order one now. Start with any of the four I’ve mentioned.

(Maybe avoid the later stuff).

Thanks, Tom! Having loved The Stepford Wives and enjoyed Rosemary’s Baby, it looks like I need to add at least two more Levins to my TBRT (to be read tower, #bookbloggerfirstworldproblems)!



Find more from Tom Trott at his website here, or follow him on FacebookTwitter, Instagram and Goodreads.

You can find my thoughts on his Brighton Detective trilogy on the following links: You Can’t Make Old Friends, Choose Your Parents Wisely, It Never Goes Away.


Pre-order your copy of The Forbidden Zone on Amazon here, and pop back on 1st February – or thereabouts – to get my review. Until then, happy reading and stay out of the woods!

One thought on “Guest Post: The moment(s) when I realised Ira Levin was a genius by Tom Trott, author of The Forbidden Zone

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