Bone Machines by John Dodds

read by Robin Sachs

If you like your psychopaths creatively sadistic, then John Dodds’ Bone Machines will appeal in large measure.

Oscar Wilde remarks in his preface to The Picture of Dorian Gray that ‘no artist has ethical sympathies’. In Bone Machines, artist Stephen Morrell demonstrates precisely that. Enjoying critical acclaim for his art, which combines photography, sculpture and all the commodification of contemporary installation work, he affects the disdain, ambiguity and superiority of the modern artist and maintains the rich tradition of excess and hedonism of the cynically creative. What Morrell exhibits is a charnel.

Gay men, naive young girls and unsuspecting older women go missing. Ray Bissett, a  journalist with a failed marriage, another failed relationship and political skeletons, has a daughter who joins the ranks of the disappeared. Police detective Tom Kendrick knows all about Ray’s past and is exasperatingly unhelpful.

Bone Machines is full of the masculine violence that is Glasgow. Men and women, generally speaking, fulfil their gendered roles. Everyone smokes. Robin Sachs’ reading drives the plot along, and there is a lack of resolution in the denouement that promises perhaps more tales of torture and death.

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