Tom is a novelist whose first book was a giant hit, whose second failed to live up to expectation, and who is finding it difficult to write his third. He is monstrously self-centred: he spends all his time at a celebration dinner with his friend Emma cruising the waiter; once Emma has paid the bill he packs her off in a taxi and takes the waiter home for drunken sex after which he boots the man out of his flat. Evie is a young wannabe novelist with a horrendous history of physical abuse from her mother.
After being stalked Tom takes Evie to court; after this he goes down to Hastings to write his book where, on the first night, he meets the waiter again, only this time dressed as a pirate. I found it hard to suspend my disbelief at this coincidence.
But is Tom safe in Hastings?
As always there is a twist at the end although I am not sure Aristotle would have approved.
The author has a clever turn of phrase:
- “‘We're just like an old married couple,’ she was fond of saying. ‘We know each other's darkest secrets and there's no sex.’” (C 6)
- “There was no Mr Right, Tom soon discovered. There was only Mr Right Now.” (C 10)
- “I think of my mother as a hot-house flower, requiring perfect growing conditions and regular feeding. Liquid feed was her favorite, of course - especially the alcoholic variety. She demanded lots of loving care and attention. My poor father tended to her the way one might fawn over a tender fern or a rare exotic orchid. Though whenever I think of her I picture a Venus flytrap.” (C 17)
- “Dead? Yes, he is. He passed away in 2014. It doesn't stop me talking to him, though. He always said I talked too much. I'd hate to disappoint him now.” (C 22)
- “I'd rather be seen as kooky than not seen at all.” (C 26)
- “The air is thick with worry and smells of death and disease and disinfectant.” (C 28)
August 2019; 308 pages
- Another (better) book in which the protagonist is a novelist struggling to maintain the success of his first books is Tourism by Nirpal Singh Dhariwal.
- Another thriller in which the protagonist is a writer is Research by Philip Kerr
My wonderful wife bought me a subscription to Books and Beer; each month I receive a crime book and some cans of beer. The other titles I have received so far are:
- Most Wanted by Robert Craik: a fast-paced thriller set in California
- The Devil's Dice by Roz Watkins: a whodunnit set in the English Peak District
- Only Killers and Thieves by Paul Howarth: a stunning tale of crime and revenge, of temptation and sin, of evil and redemption set in 1880s Queensland and as gritty as only the Australian Outback can get.
- Snap by Belinda Bauer: a brilliant story about a young lad who, having become a burglar in order to survive, discovers his mother's killer.
- Resurrection Bay by Emma Viskic: a murder mystery set in Australia in which the PI is deaf
- The Mongolian Conspiracy by Rafael Bernal: classic Chandleresque Mexican noir