Have you ever read a book where the protagonist sounds eerily like someone you know and each page makes you feel like it’s off their personal diary? Well, reading ‘Calling Mr Nelson Pugh’ by Christopher Opyr felt like that, at least in the initial few pages.
The book is a horror novella, although psychological thriller would be a more apt genre. It centers around Nelson Pugh who suffers from crippling anxiety which is usually triggered by the excessive travelling his job entails. I have a friend who is quite like that, anxious, has panic attacks, hates work related travel and is excessively paranoid, just like Mr Pugh. But he soon has bigger problems on his hands.
I got the book on my kindle and intended on reading just a few sample pages, but it was quite interesting, so I ended up reading the entire novella in one go. It’s short, with limited characters and most of the story takes place during the course of one night. And the author describes every thing so vividly that one can imagine this being an intense indie film.
The first half is spent in intimate glimpses to Mr Pugh’s internal demons, his equations with both his wife and his therapist. The title is quite apt, since most of the action takes over long distance phones calls. In-fact, the phones serve as characters in themselves, given the fear and loathing our protagonist feels towards them.
The author first lulls you into believing that it’s a simple story about a man with severe mental health issues due to which his family life is at risk. However, there is an interesting twist towards the end. Will Pugh be able to keep his sanity and his family together? That’s the main theme of the story.
I feel like maybe there could have been more back-story to the protagonist and those in his life, but since this is a novella, there is obviously not enough space to do that. Author Christopher Opyr keeps it simple with the language and the plot, and it works in the book’s favor. There is little scope for plot-holes.
“Calling Mr Nelson Pugh” is a 4.5/5 for me and is great for a quick thriller night. Also, you get that instant gratification of finishing an entire book in one sitting.