Litchfield Reviews The Pyx by John Buell for the Lancashire Post

First published in 1959 and later made into a Canuxploitation film starring Christopher Plummer, Canadian novelist John Buell’s critically acclaimed debut novel, The Pyx, is reprinted for the first time in 25 years.

Buell, a full-time professor and part-time writer who penned five novels, three of which were adapted to film, died in 2013 aged 86. His third novel was translated into many languages and his work reviewed in major newspapers and highly praised by prominent American writers like Edmund Wilson and Anthony Boucher, and yet he continues to remain a relatively obscure Québécois writer.

The Pyx, published when he was 32 years old, is an eloquent, suspenseful crime novel exploring the mysterious death of an expensive call girl who fell from a penthouse terrace… and a homicide detective’s relentless search for the truth.

Told through flashbacks and statements given to Henderson, the dogged, resourceful detective assigned to the case, Buell’s shocking and poignant story takes a stark look at the damaged victims of prostitution and drug addiction.

Trapped in a sordid, utterly destructive existence, these women were enmeshed in a ‘semi-civilized and part-psychotic fringe underworld where pleas and tears from beautiful young flesh were part of the kicks.’

Included in this Ricochet Books edition is an introduction by writer Sean Kelly, one of Buell’s former students, whose notes on the text and personal recollections of his teacher add valuable insight to the man and his work.

Dark and tragic, The Pyx is a rewarding tale with dramatically powerful scenes, rich, expressive language, and a sensitive, thoughtfully sketched female protagonist who is ‘out of the reach of human love’ and who maintains a haunting presence throughout this enthralling novel.

My review of The Pyx by John Buell is published today in the Lancashire Post, and syndicated to 25 newspapers across the UK.

Read the review here

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