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The Crack Magazine

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Where Furnaces Burn by Joel Lane

Reviewing books can be a strange business especially when books are being reissued that I’d previously read or reviewed for The Crack Magazine many years ago. Fortunately, I love Joel Lane’s writing as much now as I did then. And not because I come from Brum as Joel Lane did. And not because he frequently used Birmingham and the Black Country as the backdrop to his writing. It’s because, like all of his writing, it’s of this world, but a world that’s ever so slightly askew and distorted. Humans are hard to figure out, ghosts are abroad and characters struggle to make sense of what the hell’s going on. Where Furnaces Burn is typical. A policeman looks back over his case book and knowingly or unknowingly reveals that the battle between good and evil isn’t quite as binary as one would think. Weird stuff happens, things are seen that can hardly be believed as the unsolved cases bow various police station’s shelves, and our unnamed copper struggles to remain sane in an insane world, “Do you remember the spring of 2003? Nobody knew why we’d gone to war with Iraq. We were dropping bombs on a capital city for reasons everyone knew were false…” and so begins another case you know is going to test the very best our ‘hero’ has to offer. His moral sense battered by the natural and supernatural agents of the Heartlands that seemingly remain one indistinct step ahead of the law. Is truth stranger than fiction? Absolutely not in Joel Lane’s novels and short stories. Where Furnaces Burn is superbly creepy and one of his very best. Totally recommended.

Where Furnaces Burn – Joel Lane - publ. by Influx Press - £9.99

Steven Long

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