Martin John is not the easiest book to describe. First of all, most of the book takes place within his point of view, which consists of short sentences, use of repetition, non chronological events , uses stock phrases to describe serious matters and his nicknames. It is a jumble.
After a few pages the reader discovers that Martin John is mentally ill. He exposes himself in public areas, tries to touch women, sends pornography to his mother and loves it when his bladder is full. On the gentler side he is obsessed with Eurovision, hates the letter ‘P’ and follows a strict time table.
I have only given a small sample of Martin John’s antics, there is more but the pleasure of the book is discovering these details and then seeing them reoccur. Why did Martin John move from Ireland to London? Who is the Baldy Conscience? What’s the importance of circuits?
Although the book is uneasy reading, it is also an absorbing one. I like it when an author lets the reader piece things together and with Schofield’s unique way of presenting Martin John’s worldview makes this novel an original read. I have read quite a few excellent books about mental illness but this one is one of the most startling. I also liked the fact that Schofield shifts the POV to one of his victims and that helps unveil a lot of things about the titular character.
Martin John is a one of a kind novel, the type that stays with you for quite a while. It’s also a quietly shocking novel, which is a rarity.