Why don't mummy and daddy love one another any more? Now we have to live with daddy on our own. He's okay, I suppose, but we still miss mummy. And we HATE HATE HATE Netta. It's so boring in the country. Daddy's brought us out to the cottage because he wants us to like our new mummy. But the more you see of Netta, the more you realize how HORRIBLE she is. We're glad daddy's gone now though, to look after poor granny, so he thinks. That means it's just Netta and the four of us children: Kester, Michael, Ben - and our little sister, Daisy. Netta will be so surprised when we tell her about the game we want to play. What nice children, after all, she'll think. But this isn't a game at all, it's serious: we're going to put STUPID Netta on trial for her life ...
Robert and Judith have split up, Robert having custody of their four children. Robert remains at their home in Swindon, his wife moves to London. Judith dotes on her eldest sons, Kester and Michael, having little time for Ben and Daisy, and she has the favoured pair stay with her on several occasions while the little ones remain behind with their father. Finding her new-found independence far from ideal, she seeks reconciliation with her husband.
Robert announces his intention to wed his girlfriend, Netta.
Furious, Judith sets about turning her boys against the "usurper" and, in the repulsive fifth chapter, seduces 13 year old Kester. Mother's favourite son has already displayed worrying signs of a strong, sadistic streak (fed by his ma's discources on famous murder cases) . The kids buy mummy a bird as a birthday present and, when it dares nip her , Kester provides a vivid demonstration of his capacity for violence. This leads to more animal torture: when Netta accepts Robert's marriage proposal, you can't help but worry she is signing her own death warrant.
How Netta comes to be tied to a chair for almost the entire duration of the second half of the book isn't entirely convincing, but what follows is. With the "condemned prisoner" at Kester's mercy, Taylor is utterly unflinching in piling horror upon horror until the last, dreadful brutality, as pathetic in many ways as it is inevitable.
Mother's Boy's treads very similar territory to Let's Go Play At The Adams', a likeness re-enforced by the broken dolly on the cover. By no means my favourite Taylor novel - depending on my mood, that would be The Moorstone Sickness with Sweetheart, Sweetheart close behind, or vice versa - this is still a very effective, uncomfortable variation on the Fatal Attraction theme.
slightly tarted up from version that appeared on Vault MK I, not that you'd notice
Photo: Bob Marchant
From the first, I set myself against "literature"; the story was the thing, and no amount of style could persuade me to select a story that lacked genuine, unadulterated horror. For those who wanted something high-brow there was plenty.
I have read some of Taylor's short stories in various anthologies but none of his novels so far as I can recall. The Moorstone Sickness or Sweetheart, Sweetheart, from what I have read, sound like they are supernatural tales, so probably where I would choose to start sampling Taylor's longer works.