D J Taylor

Constable Demy Hardback, £12.99

Released: March 25th 2010

Reviewer: Russell James


Russell James has been named “the Godfather of Noir” by Ian Rankin. Russell writes crime novels - about criminals and victims, not the cozy procedural or whodunnit. He is the editor of Great British Fictional Detectives.


Taylor has switched effortlessly forward in time from his Kept: A Victorian Mystery to the deep depression of Thirties Britain to bring us an atmospheric tale revolving around Ross, a would-be writer, behind with the rent and reduced to selling cleansing fluids door-to-door (ah, memory, it all comes back...).  The tone reflects the pinched and petty flavour of those days and the hard-scrabble existence uncomprehensible to any modern reader whose parents are under eighty.  Yet there’s a lightness here and little to bring you down, largely because Ross stays determinedly chipper throughout, despite being blind to the scams and catastrophes at work and the criminal lifestyle of the glamorous Susie – ‘a vision of red hair and white silk stockings’ – and her urbane boss.  All the elements of noir are here, as we see Ross setting himself up for a fall (with Susie’s help) – but will he fall or can he slide through as always?





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