The prose style is filmic: lots of short, descriptive sentences, the camera panning from one disaster to the next, almost like a screenplay. McMullan succeeds with this style because it suits the subject matter of his book so well. The Last Good Man is eerie and atmospheric in evoking a chilling, believable dystopia that could be coming to a town near you.
he seemingly close rural community is not as cosy as it seems. Disgruntled citizens air their grievances by writing on an enormous wall, with retribution delivered by the ‘law and order’ and a team of ‘chasers’. Sins are made into literal burdens as wrongdoers are roped to crushingly heavy items of furniture — and, as Peck discovers, other punishments are far worse.
McMullan makes highly effective use of the rugged landscape, full of unease and portents, in his creepily unsettling debut, a timely tale about the dangers of toxic rhetoric and mob rule.
The Last Good Man explores themes of forgiveness and revenge and what can make a person feel “unmoored” in life. Twitter is the modern psychotic rabbit hole, of course, but McMullan’s tale is a brilliantly unsettling parable about how we police our societies through violence, language and shame – and how it’s easy to orchestrate the use of hatred in public spaces.