by John Mathews
In this short novella, we meet four characters, all of whom are connected by their earlier involvement in a legal case. Separately, each has received an invite to an event that they believe is presenting an investment opportunity. However, when all four arrive, they soon realise that they have no option but to face the consequences of their previous actions…
I read The Conviction in one sitting; it’s tense, fast-paced, brutal and I enjoyed it. Given the short length, you are plunged pretty much straight into the action. We are given a little backstory with Nancy, but the other characters we learn about as the action progresses. The prose is short, economical yet efficient in moving the narrative along. The story is quite dialogue-heavy and Mr Mathews is careful to make the speech nicely distinctive.
All four main characters are unlikeable and, for that reason, I thought the ending could have been harsher because Mathews does a good job in making them all utterly obnoxious. There is an almost biblical/allegorical aspect to the story serving as a warning to the greed and corruption of the human race. I thought Kevin was under-developed and I would have preferred more focus on him rather than Jeffrey, who slightly commandeers the story towards the end. I did also query whether a cynical lawyer of two decades standing, such as Nancy, would have fallen for the investment scam but mention is made several times of her avarice.
In places, The Conviction almost reads like a script, it’s quite heavy with objective detailing. Indeed, the whole premise was very filmic; it reminded me of the ‘Escape Room’ genre that was prevalent a while ago.
A creative, interesting and exciting thriller – highly recommended.