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Ride with Madness by psychmum

No one thinks straight in a heatwave. 

Ride with Madness is set in the long hot summer of 1995. It opens with Helen Byrne, who yearns for personal freedom in her stifling marriage to the upwardly mobile Malcolm. Her compulsive involvement with ex-prostitute Carla and the flamboyant cult leader Addison threatens to tip all of them into the kind of madness where no one seems to have self-control. Events lead inexorably to tragedy.

A complete novel

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Listed: Oct 1, 2008

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Helen tries to reach out to life, but will she find death?

By Fiona Gregory, editor

Jul 7, 2009: So far, 17 chapters have gone down with great ease and enjoyment.

As the story unfolded, the characters found their warmth. Helen breaks out of her prim, cautious existance as a dutiful wife to find what is probably her first genuine friendship in years with people very different from herself. The loyal affection between Carla and Addison is revealed, and Addison himself, however one may feel about his view of religion, emerges as a sincere, idealistic,and ultimately kind (although moody) man. In fact, he makes a nice counterpoint to the familiar fiction and TV reality of the corrupt, hyprocritical fundamentalist preacher. Even the obtuse Malcolm is more to be pitied than despised.

The plot starts off slowly, but interest was held as we seem to move in step with the charactors as events sweep them up. As the menace stalking them forms a more visceral presence, the tension builds, although still subtly, in the background, as the characters pretend to continue their lives as if everything was normal. The antagonist is in fact the only character who is not multidimensional in strengths and flaws; he seems to represent pure evil as he pursues his seemingly irrational goal. However, sadly, sociopaths do exist. Unlike many Web Fiction Guide listings, there is no supernatural in this tale; this is about the creepiness of reality.

There are moments of unevenness – a diary appears as, the author herself admits, a rather cliched plot device, and there is the familiar frustration of watching characters neglect to take obvious, sensible measures to protect themselves for reasons that feel a little obscure. Yet the great fascination and genius of the story, in my opinion, is even as we get to know the characters, each is going through some kind of personal transition, and we’re never quite sure how they will react to the events that unfold. Overall, I would say this a well crafted, fascinating, and suspenseful tale that rings true to life.

As an aside, I’m not sure the title is right for the story. I wouldn’t call any of the main characters mad, deluded maybe, but not insane. There may be a better title for this story, but I can’t think of one myself yet!

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Solid literary fiction

By Chris Poirier, editor

Nov 15, 2008: Ride With Madness—to date, at six chapters—is some very solidly-written literary fiction. The word that keeps coming to mind while I write this is "immaculate". With the exception of the opening few scenes, every word seems right—there’s nothing out of place.

The story begins when Helen, the taken-for-granted wife of a self-involved corporate climber, finds Carla, a young woman with a shady past, going into labour at a bus stop. Helen really doesn’t want to get involved, if the truth be [more . . .]

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