Last year's 'The Electric' by Andrew David Barker (previously reviewed on this blog) was a love letter to cinema and growing up in the 1980's. 'Dead Leaves' does much the same thing for Video Nasties - and does a grand job of it.
It is 1983 and to Scott Bradley, just out of school, on the dole and heading for a life of factory drudgery and his friends Paul and Mark Horror Videos are the be all and all of everything. Nothing much else matters other than getting to see the next Nasty. To them, what really matters is getting hold of The Holy Grail of Video Nasties - The Evil Dead. This is a world of pokey little video shops and dodgy dealers in a time when the clampdown on Horror Videos was in full swing.
This novella is also a story of friendship, of family and of growing up. Scott's dad wants him to get a job, constantly getting at him to fill in application forms for mundane (in Scott's mind) jobs when what he really wants is to go to film school. Anyone reading this book who was around at the time it is set will, as with 'The Electric' be taken back to a time when films weren't available 24/7. A time when you borrowed a film from the local video shop and had it for 1 day before returning it.
The friends have a plan to make money - there is a chance to get a copy of The Evil Dead so they can make copies themselves and sell them on. The only real problem is that they need to find £60 to buy their copy (remember, this is 1983)
Barker does a really good job of transporting the reader back to the early 80's (I was the same age as Scott in 1983 so I guess I know what I'm talking about) and his love of film shows through in what turns out to be another excellent story. I was looking forward to Dead Leaves from the moment I heard of it and it certainly lived up to my expectations. Now I can look forward to whatever Andrew David Barker comes up with next in the sure knowledge it will be well worth the wait.