Book Review: Ned Beauman’s Glow is a poignant crime story told through a druggy haze

An uneasy air of psychedelic paranoia hangs over Ned Beauman’s Glow, the by-product of key rhythms—sleep cycles, sober thought processes, the reassuring way that things have always been—getting booted into ditches on the side of the road. Things move too fast, like someone “editing the machine code on which the world runs,” and when the cause of this is sought, every sliver of answer is met with more questions. “For every three parts of the machinery she’s learned to follow,” Beauman writes of a revolutionary, “there are seven or eight farther back that she’ll never even glimpse.”

The center of Beauman’s novel—which is at once manic and melancholy, and for the most part successfully walks a very difficult line—is the creation and prospects of the title drug (the potency of which is summed up with a tester’s journal entry: “LIGHTS!”). Around …

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