By Ramsey Campbell
Nine years after
her four-year-old daughter, Angela, was murdered Barbara Waugh has got
her life back on track and learned how to live with the pain. Barbara
is a successful literary agent and things are going well. Then she
receives a phone call and a voice at the other end of the line says the
one word that is capable of opening up the old wounds and turning
Barbara's life upside down. That word is mummy.
Barbara has her doubts about the identity of the caller. It could quite
easily be a hoax, especially as she has recently been the subject of a
magazine article. She is a wealthy woman whose child was murdered nine
years ago—just the right kind of target for the wrong type of people.
Even though Barbara is such a perfect victim for a confidence
trickster, it is pretty obviouse, right from the start, that
the caller is going to turn out to be Angela.
It is not long before Barbara finds herself on the trail of a
mysterious cult that does not have a name. The cult moves around from
area to area and never stays in one place for very long. Because of
this they are hard to pin down and seem to be almost a myth. One of the
first things members of the cult have to do is to reject their names
and they reject them so completely that they cannot even remember them.
They truly are nameless. They are also extremely evil. I will not
bother cataloguing their list of crimes, but if you are a regular
reader of horror fiction none of the cult's misdeeds should shock you
too much. If horror is not the kind of thing that you usually take to
bed with your cocoa though, you should probably add a few extra spoons
of sugar to the cup, just in case.
is a little over 270 pages long and as the tale unfolds Barbara
certainly gets around. She lives and works in London, but her search
for Angela takes her as far North as Scotland and her job forces her,
at one point, to let up on her search and fly over to New York for a
book auction. No matter where she may roam, Angela is never far from
Barbara's mind. How could she be? The calls keep coming.
The basic storyline is obviously Barbara's search for her daughter, but
her relationship with a man called Ted comes a close second. Ted is a
writer, but he is not on Barbara's books, so there is no mixing of
business and pleasure. They seem to have quite a solid relationship,
but it could hardly be called the romance of the century. Ted comes
across as a dependable person who Barbara can rely on when she
needs an ear to bend or someone to warm the other side of her bed, but
the relationship is altogether too bland for my tastes.
Other characters come and go. One such character is a young
investigative reporter called Gerry Martin, who tries to infiltrate the
cult, but when she eventually does so she finds out the answers to some
questions that she would never have thought to ask. Ted's ex-wife turns
up from time to time as well to add a little more misery to his life,
and he also sees his daughter once a week so that he can get a little
taste of guilt as well. Angela's father, Arthur, also has a part to
play in the proceeding, which is interesting if you bear in mind he
died before she was born.
The Nameless is
quite a dark tale and unlike a lot of stories it could not be said to
walk the line between horror and another genre. This one definitely
belongs on the book shop's horror shelves. The Nameless is a
satisfying read and I am glad to say that everything is resolved at the
end, but I do feel that it would have been a stronger book if the
relationships between the characters had had a little more passion to
them. Ted, like Arthur before him, is dependable—a rock—but I never got
the impression that either one of the men in Barbara's life were likely
to make her heart miss a beat. Dependable rocks are great and all of
that moss they gather can even be comfortable, but they are still
boring. Rolling stones are more interesting; you can chase a rolling
stone and you never know where it will lead you.