Lingering discontent defines Stuart Mullond's existence. Raised in a religious family with a skewed definition of “truth”, dismissed as unimportant in school and now trapped in an uninspiring job, depression dogs his heels. He's found a measure of happiness with new girlfriend Amelia but is reminded often of his ex-wife's hurtful infidelity – especially since his ex Molly and Amelia have become friends, something that irritates him endlessly. Pestered by his widowed mother, ineffectual at work and alarmed by the growing distance between him and his son James, Stuart grapples with a crushing sense of defeat.
Worse, he can't forget a traumatic, childhood medical procedure. Nightmares of what Dr. Ferguson did fills his nights; the metallic snick-snick of his scissors ringing around every corner. Soon Stuart's nightmares become flesh, and he sees Dr. Ferguson everywhere. Is he dreaming? Hallucinating? Or has the good doctor returned to practice his twisted medicine on Stuart's son, James? What will Stuart do to protect his family from those awful, cutting scissors?
Perhaps the most powerful aspect of this work is Garton's deep, sympathetic characters. Though he paints them very realistically with all too human faults, by the novel's end it's hard to find anyone to blame. There are no easy answers, here; just the echoing reminder that life is hard, cruel, and unfair...and that sacrifice is too often required to survive it. Also: things are never what they seem.
*Note: reprint of Cemetery Dance's 2004 release.