TUMULT follows Adam Whistler, a self-destructive film-maker, who becomes bored with his perfectly banal life and flings himself into the unknown. A chance encounter at party with the mysterious Morgan pulls Adam’s life into smorgasbord of conspiracies, emotional turmoil and murder. Written by John Harris Dunning with art by Michael Kennedy, this is one thriller we couldn’t put down.
IT’S FULL OF BEAUTIFULLY IMPERFECT CHARACTERS ADDRESSING THEIR OWN PROBLEMS AND LEARNING TO GROW AS INDIVIDUALS.
Adam might be the focus point throughout the book, but this really isn’t his story. As a cynical protagonist he’s complete with flaws, bad choices and some unlikeable qualities. We’re never forced to like him, instead we’re given a three-dimensional character that is struggling to find his place in the world. Sure, we see everything through his eyes and how it affects him – but it’s Morgan who is the real hook of TUMULT. Her personality is enthralling at all times and as her murky background begins to unfold the true extent of Morgan’s problems are revealed.
There are moments across the book that are reminiscent of popular films and TV shows that have become tropes in some genres. Since this is a spoiler-free review – we won’t reveal what, but TUMULT breathes new life into a character trait we’ve seen before. There’s also a political aspect to it all that manages to provide a puppet master-like villain without feeling the need to bump the scale of the story up. There’s no huge Hollywood ending that goes gun blazing with action heroes aplenty. It’s full of beautifully imperfect characters addressing their own problems and learning to grow as individuals.
Speaking of big action heroes; one recurring tool that Dunning uses which really stuck out is the mini exploration of masculinity in Hollywood through the writings of Adam’s friend. It provides a mini commentary on action movies like Predator and Die Hard while also giving us a subtextual message on Adam balancing his own masculine troubles. Let’s also take a moment just to praise the art in TUMULT. Michael Kennedy’s unconventional use of colour and art compliments the equally distinctive plot as a combination of pastels tantalisingly pulls the reader’s eye through each page.
In an attempt not to ruin the twists and turns throughout TUMULT, we loved the (occasional) unreliable narration and the unique traits of Morgan’s personality, because it helps build the slick Hitchcockian nature so entrenched in the story. Even when the story builds up to it’s satisfying resolution, there’s still a layer of mystery over Morgan waiting to be lifted. Even on the very last page Dunning leaves her place in the story on a truly intriguing ending. For fans of psychological thrillers and character driven mysteries, this is the book for you.