A new edition of one of my early novels, “Putrid Underbelly”, out of print for the last few years, is being published on 23 July 2022, so I thought I take the time to tell people about it.
I first started work on “Putrid Underbelly” in 2003, and work progressed slowly until 2007 when, after the first mention of the name Gaz Carmichael, I tossed the manuscript to the bottom of my hard drive slush pile. Two years later, I was determined to finish the first draft, and work proceeded apace. “Putrid Underbelly” was published in 2010, and it was the first truly transgressive novel that I wrote. Since then, there has been “Besotted”, “Maggie’s Children” and “Muslamic Ray Gun”, featuring flawed male characters as the main protagonist.
So what is it about?
A journalist by the name of Rob Murgatroyd loses his wife and children in a road traffic accident, and he quickly becomes obsessed with death. He is addicted to online gore sites, and realizes that the next step is to uncover evidence of the existence of snuff videos – where murder is committed for financial gain in front of a camera lens, and is sold to the highest bidder.
In the first edition, there was mention of notorious websites such as Ogrish.com, Rotten.com and Documenting Reality, gore websites showing shocking images and film footage of death. I visited those websites from 2000 up to 2009, and there are descriptions of some of the hideous things I witnessed within the text of “Putrid Underbelly”. In a way, the development of Rob Murgatroyd evolved out of my own experiences, and how sullied and dirtied I’d felt I’d become as a consequence of being one of the first members of the Documenting Reality website. Between 2010 – when the first edition came out – and 2020, far more explicit videos of murder and death were published, primarily on Documenting Reality, and I felt that describing these videos in a new edition of the book would create a greater impact on the reader, and so that’s what I did. I dirtied and sullied myself once more by revisiting those horrific websites – the ones that still survived – solely for research purposes. The original attraction had gone, and this time I genuinely felt sickened by what I saw.
“Putrid Underbelly” is designed to shock, to let the reader know just how much value is placed on life across the world. Murders filmed for notoriety, demonstrating the absolute lack of respect for humankind. But those shocks are pasted into a story of a man on a dangerous journey of discovery amongst a cast of larger than life characters in the UK’s capital. Porn stars, gangsters, bent coppers, and a mad investigative journalist who doesn’t know whether he wants to live or die as he snorts cocaine and uncovers a vile conspiracy around a series of torture killings.
It’s a mad ride.
Should you read it? Only if you have a strong stomach, if you like being shocked and sickened, and if you like to take a journey on the dark side of life.