The Eleventh Letter Synopsis :
A LOVE STORY. A GHOST STORY. A MURDER MYSTERY.
Chris Katiwa, a Harley Street psychotherapist, finds himself trapped in his office by heavy snow. When a beautiful, enigmatic woman asks to take shelter with him, he finds himself drawn to her charisma. Discovering tapes concerning a murder trial from the 1980s, Chris and his mysterious guest listen to voices from the past as the night draws in and darkness falls.
Chris begins to wonder if the woman he once tried to defend is as innocent as he had thought. Was she involved in the Pisa killings, or were they work of the savage serial killer that became known as the Wolfman?
The Eleventh Letter is a ghostly, Lynchian tale that explores love and lies, murder and madness.
I do like a taste of gothic literature every once in a while and the London and Pisa settings piqued my interest. I was also keen to try out The Pigeonhole’s serialised reading format.
The Eleventh Letter challenged me, but that’s not always a bad thing – kind of like a cryptic crossword, it will have a distinct appeal to a subset of readers. This is a complex, multi-layered story borne from a clever idea, the full of extent of which only becomes apparent at its conclusion.
Tomaszewski’s introspective narrative yield some wonderful observations on the mundane.
So I was at the Langham and that, too, was half empty. I went up to my room, number eleven, all alone in the lift and walked down a corridor feeling sealed-in, slightly sickened. There was a sort of stale warmth, a dry overheating. However plush a hotel feels it seems cheap to me if its windows don’t open. As I approached my room I noticed all of these things, hyper-aware, maybe, after considering my deadened state that morning. It didn’t set me up well, that’s for sure. I would be warm that night but I could also be asphyxiated by corporate cling film. Too much worry about fire and safety regulations; not enough about what it feels like lying in something like a Tupperware box.
As much as I enjoyed elements of the prose, I struggled to retain focus and character delineation in the many dialogue heavy segments of this novel (presented in quasi script format). Without giving too much away, I also felt a little ‘at sea’ with the ghostly overlays and surreal tangents on a few occasions, but I now realise that was likely intentional.
While some glitches in execution brought me out of the story more than I would have liked, I have admiration for Tomaszewski’s ambition and the level of intrigue he cultivates in The Eleventh Letter. This novel is best suited for readers with an appetite for the experimental and highly surreal.
BOOK RATING: The Story 3 / 5 ; The Writing 2.5 / 5
Genre: Drama, Literature, Mystery
Author Information: Tom Tomaszewski works as a psychotherapist specialising in addiction at a private clinic, Charter, in central London. He was born in 1966 and grew up in South London, spending large amounts of time in the Scottish Highlands. His father, a printing engineer, came from a family of dissenting Polish patriots. His aunt died in Auschwitz and his grandfather was regularly prosecuted for an anti-Prussian column he wrote: Polish Fire. His mother, a nurse who worked with the Romany population of St Mary Cray in Bromley, introduced him to books and music alongside medicine and psychology, all of which continue to interest him. The Eleventh Letter is a story about desire, ghosts and trying to change the past.
* My receiving free access to The Eleventh Letter via ThePigeonhole reading platform for review purposes did not impact the expression of my honest opinions in the review above.