Source: Review copy
Publication:1st August 2021 from Oakhill Publishing
Narrator: Michael Simkins
Length: 8 hrs 30mins
My thanks to Isis Audio and Danielle for the opportunity to review this audiobook.
Behind the normal door of a normal house, in a normal street, two men are slowly driving each other insane. One of them is a psychopath. The father: Mr Todd is at his wits’ end. He’s been robbed of his job as a tax inspector and is now stuck at home…with him. Frustrated. Lonely. Angry. Really angry. The son: Adrian has no job, no friends. He is at home all day, obsessively chopping vegetables and tap-tap-tapping on his computer. And he’s getting worse, disappearing for hours at a time, sneaking off to who-knows-where. The unholy spirit: In the safety of suburbia, one man has developed a taste for killing. And he’ll kill again.
I’m of the firm view that when it comes to audiobooks, the choice of narrator is critical. In this instance Michael Simkins is an inspired choice. He wears the character of Malcolm Todd, a puffed up, self-aggrandised narcissist as if he were born to the role. He is Pooterish but with a harder, more bitter edge.
Iain Maitland’s dark tale is of a much maligned former tax inspector who relished his job so much that he took it home and spied on his neighbours lest they should be caught infringing a regulation or two. Forced out of his job through no fault of his own (as he tells it) he is now stuck at home, day after day with his son, Adrian. Adrian is an irritant in Malcolm Todd’s life. The lad can do nothing right.
Adrian has no job, no gumption and everything he does irritates Malcolm. Really he just wants to be left alone in his bungalow without the constant distraction of Adrian’s existence. None of this is helped by the fact that there is a heatwave and the atmosphere is stifling.
To distract himself, he begins a journal in which he details his woes about everything that has befallen his life and his aggrieved sense of wrongs spills onto every page. Iain Maitland beautifully captures that sense of an unimportant middle manager male ego bruised and fighting back with so much self-justification that it is comical to listen to.
As the heat builds up outside, so the tension in the bungalow becomes unbearable. And when Adrian brings a visitor home, everything starts to go horribly wrong…
Mr Todd’s Reckoning is character driven with all the focus on the protagonist Malcolm Todd who is our narrator. It is his warped sense of perspective that we get all the way through. He’s not a stupid man; he has some cunning though oddly, no foresight.
As we progress through his diary entries we realise just how dark a character he is and this method of meting out information in small parcels is just right for allowing the darkness to creep in on us and to reel the listener in to this slow burning but riveting tale.
Verdict: Mr Todd’s Reckoning is a dark, satirical listen and much of the joy of this book is in the way Michael Simkins brings the surreal character of Malcolm Todd to life. Iain Maitland’s characterisation is perfect and precise and though you will loathe him, Malcolm Todd is vividly drawn and all too real.
Iain Maitland is the author of Sweet William and Mr Todd’s Reckoning, both published by Contraband, an imprint of Saraband. Mr Todd’s Reckoning has been optioned for TV by AbbottVision. His next book, The Scribbler, the first in the Gayther & Carrie detective series, is published by Contraband in May 2020.
Michael Simkins is an actor and author, and is a familiar face both on TV and on the West End stage. Film credits include The Iron Lady, V for Vendetta, and Topsy-Turvy.Michael is also a best-selling author, journalist and broadcaster. Books include What’s My Motivation, the Costa-nominated Fatty Batter, Detour de France, The Last Flannelled Fool, and most recently The Rules of Acting. He is a regular contributor to the Daily Telegraph and The Times, as well as Radio 4’s Today and Front Row.