‘K&R’ by James Smythe: A COVID-19 Charity Novel

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We live in unprecedented times. Many of us look on in admiration at those people on the front line. The nurses, the doctors, the delivery men, the shopworkers keeping us in groceries. This inevitably leads to wondering about what we could do on a personal level to aid those around us. Many people have contributed across the globe, helping their communities combat the spread and effects of COVID-19. Author James Smythe had similar thoughts, only to find there was little he could do on a practical level. What he did have, however, was an unpublished novel. K&R: Kidnap and Ransom. 

A few weeks ago, just as the seriousness of the situation was dawning on us here in the UK, James put out a call on Twitter for people to help him bring his novel to life, with all proceeds going to Coronavirus charities. Two people stepped up (and probably many more); David Bryher edited the manuscript and Vince Haig created the cover. In a matter of days, the novel was brought into the world.

You can pick up the book in the US and in the UK. All proceeds from the sale of the book will go to Coronavirus charities.

Why Read K&R?

I’m a big James Smythe fan. I’ve read nearly all of his novels and reviewed a few of them for GeekDad. He is a master of understated psychological horror, or if not exactly horror, then the deeply unsettling. His novels take something that is almost entirely normal, skew it slightly, and watch as humanity crumbles. As I said, deeply unsettling.

Few of them are as unsettling as K&R, and whilst I would exhort you to pick up the novel to help increase the charity pot, you may wish to hold off reading it until normal life has resumed.

For this is a book about isolation and the need to keep your loved ones safe. Smythe is a fan of Stephen King, and this shows in his writing—none more so than in K&R, I think. Like The Shining, this is a book about obsession, substance abuse, and the unraveling of a mind.

It begins with an innocuous-looking USB stick arriving unheralded on a doormat. On it, a video, disturbing but not horrific, but a video that changes with every view. From there, it begins…

Intrigued? Do check it out.

K&R is a gripping tale of the lengths we will go to keep our loved ones safe. It’s not for the faint of heart, but I guarantee, you won’t be able to tear your eyes from the page as the novel hurtles towards its climax.

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