JA Kruger – the gift of the dead

The Gift Of The Dead

(and the confusing decadence of madness)

the gift of the dead

“How does an awkward, invisible guy end up with the most desired woman? How does this awkward guy end up in a mental hospital? What made this awkward guy murder and torture and rape?” These are the questions plaguing a psychiatrist who has been forced into unravelling John’s mind.

John Lensing is in a mental institution awaiting trial for murder and numerous other crimes while a court-appointed psychiatrist probes into his past to determine the cause and reality of his psychosis. What he finds is a labyrinth of madness in a confused individual.

Having been sheltered from the outside world for most of his life, John discovers a life he was never ready for; however, is coaxed into by a free-spirited, tattooed goddess and her hedonistic lifestyle of drugs and debauchery. In this new life, the socially awkward John’s mental state alters as he starts giving in to his own violent and obsessive thoughts.


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praise for the gift of the dead


“Pendulum of Madness”

Kruger’s ability to paint a picture of madness is nothing short of exemplary.

From his dark loom he is able to create a different take on madness as viewed not just from Lensing himself, but from all those caught in his web. The switch between past and present as told by Lensing provides the background of a troubled individual but also one who possess a non-traditional strength in adversity.

Whilst Lensing is the centre cog of this story, Kruger manages to create a world in contrast to itself. Populated by dark and light, the author shows us how there is no absolute black and white. Kruger purposely shows how these two elements interplay with each other and is a recurring theme throughout the story. Thankfully, he does this implicitly and allows the reader to discover this through their own observations throughout. If anything, the lesson here could also be that too much time in the grey, however, is just as dangerous.

I look forward to seeing Kruger’s future work. It’s been a long time since I’ve read something that is both dark and endearing.


“A Brilliant Read!”

Absolutely brilliant! I finished this book in two days as I found it difficult to put it down and walk away from Mr Lensing. It grabbed me from the first word and kept me intrigued the entire time.

You start questioning the fact that you are reading fiction as the characters with all their fears and dreams and problems seem so very real. It felt like I was in the mind of this misguided misunderstood “madman” and I found myself loving this character even though in the real world we should fear and despise people like this.

It is very well written with a wonderful and unexpected twist. I truly hope to see more work from this incredibly gifted writer!

Megan Blom


Reading the book is like being in the mind of John Lensing – it is honest to the point where you don’t believe it is fiction.



Wonderful no holds barred insight into the mind of an influencable man.

Robert Allman