The Last Days of Jack Sparks – Jason Arnopp

Ths popped up as a recommendation on Amazon recently. As it sounded intriguing, and was 99p, I thought I’d give it a try. And ooooooh, good move.

Jack Sparks is, or was, a notoriously controversial journalist. Having moved on from music reviews, he’s written a serious successful series including one about his journey through Britain on a pogo stick, and most recently Jack Sparks on Drugs, a title which works in both the ways you might guess.

But it seems something happened to Jack while working on his next book, Jack Sparks on the Supernatural. And we gradually learn what. Presented as the unfinished manuscript of Jack’s new book, with an introduction and occasional comments from his brother, together with emails, text messages and interviews, this book takes the reader into the depths of Jack’s world.

It’s almost immediately apparent that Jack is, if not an unreliable narrator, then a self-deceiving egotistical, selfish git. The action starts with an exorcism in Italy, where Jack behaves very badly, and it’s downhill all the way from there. Disturbed by a strange video uploaded to his YouTube channel, Jack joins a bunch of paranormal investigators in California, whose experiment gets out of hand with lethal consequences.

And then things start to get really strange. Given Jack’s approximate relationship with the truth, we can’t be sure of anything he tells us, even after he’s had an apparent change of heart.

And can we trust the framing story written by Jack’s brother?

There’s a lot of ooooh, nasty moments and lots of laughs – Jack’s a funny writer. A very unpleasant, devious and manipulative bastard, but funny. And at the end, there’s some delicious ambiguity over what did (or didn’t) happen.

Well worth a read, and I’ll be reading more of Jason’s work. Apparently this book is being developed for a movie, which might be interesting.

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