The Seymour Tapes confirms what readers of Tim Lott have long known: he is one of the most subtle and sensitive writers at work today. In such books as White City Blue and Rumours of a Hurricane, the author has demonstrated a masterly command of subtle and allusive prose, along with a refusal to repeat himself in terms of subject matter.
The conceit of the new novel is that Lott is examining a real-life case: at the request of the widow of the late Dr Alex Seymour, he has decided to put certain facts in the public view. Seymour had experienced a life change after seeing a shoplifter caught on a surveillance camera: what was he missing in his own life that surveillance could reveal? He decides to enlist the Cyclops organisation and undertake a revealing overview of his own life--all at the behest of the charismatic American Sherry Thomas. An embarrassing scandal follows, know as the Skin Tapes. And it's this which is (we are told) the basis of Lott’s investigation, as the author interrogates Seymour's widow Samantha. As with the novels of John Fowles, Lott becomes drawn into his own narrative, as Samantha Seymour puts the author himself in the limelight, obliging him to be equally as frank about things he'd rather conceal about his own life.
Sex and dark psychology are always a good recipe for a compelling novel, and Lott is as adroit as ever at marshalling the combustible elements of his narrative into a fascinating whole. His self-involvement is a dangerous gambit-- the final effect is exhilarating. --Barry Forshaw