The Suburbs of Hell – Randolph Snow

The Suburbs of Hell is one of many old Australian classic novels that Text Publishing have rereleased. The final novel by Randolph Snow, The Suburbs of Hell tells the story of a small English seaside town in the thralls of a serial killer. The killer appears to pick his victims at random and with no one safe the residents start turning their suspicions on each other to disastrous consequences.


At first I was a little disappointed with this novel, it wasn’t quite what I thought it would be. I had imagined it was more of a psychological thriller, a calculated killer stalking his victims in turn instilling fear in the reader as we follow his bloody trail and with this novel having been inspired by the stalking and killing of the Redlands monster I was surprised with what it really was. My disappointment didn’t linger upon finishing this short novel when I realised that, instead, this was a much more intelligent novel. Something different and much more striking. The Suburbs of Hells is more about the psychological terror of what it is like living in a town stalked by a silent killer. The way gossip can turn anyone into a murderous soul. The paranoia and constant living in fear and how that can wear down a soul. How despite the law looking into this terror, ultimately, they are powerless until the killer becomes careless. Yes, this novel was nothing what I expected but so much more.


The prose is beautiful, understated and aims true. I found the accent of the characters a little difficult to follow at first but in time did not notice it. I loved the way the chapters were set out, each ending in the same way: a creepy little window into the most terrifying moments. Without spoiling anything I will also say the ending was memorable and I though the way it was ended was perfect. It completely fit the tone of the novel and leaves the reader much to ponder. There is so much more I want to say to describe the atmosphere and quiet contemplativeness of this novel, yet, to do so would spoil aspects of the story.


I will leave you with this: read this book if you want a novel that is psychologically demanding in an unusual way, read this is you want a different take on a crime novel. Just do not go into The Suburbs of Hell expecting your typical psychological thriller because you may be disappointed (or pleasantly surprised in my case). This was a great read and I’m glad that Text Publishing have brought this gem back. I give The Suburbs of Hell three rifles, the killers weapon of choice.


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