Why does Robert Reith, a reclusive classics don, wish to destroy a popular government minister, Sir Philip Nocton? And who is the elusive Martin who appears to link them?
Martin takes us back to the secret games of their childhood friendship to discover why Reith employs the Dark Web to drive Nocton to desperation. It is the story of a love that has lasted a lifetime and of a desire for revenge that poisons three lives.
Reith narrates his own history in a voice which is brilliantly clever, deeply sardonic, and often very funny. Ian Thomson’s disquieting first novel radically challenges how we think about love, sexuality, friendship and innocence.
Reviews for this book
Beautiful writing bringing the story alive.
Thomson is a prolific wordsmith with an art for creating beautiful crafted visions of his characters and surroundings that make the whole book come alive. The biggest challenge in this book is the struggle to warm to the main character who seemingly becomes more sadistic and cold over time but lacks the endearing flipside that accompanies some of literature’s greatest anti-heroes. And there’s a fair bit of sex in it too.
Laugh yourself silly or be sick. I don't care.
Ian Thomson has written a complex, funny, brave, disturbing, warm novel. That’s the truth of the matter. Few stories have the ability to make you laugh out loud; stop you in your tracks as you contemplate the mysteries of the human heart and yet also leave you feeling a little chilled. This one actually does do all of those things. I really like it.
When I think of Robert Reith, Philip Nocton and Martin Quillan, I see them. I see them in a world that exists as clearly as the one I am writing this review from: Quex Quay, the school, the pavilion… The novel has the ability to hold you in these places with the characters, even when you are not reading it; even once you have read the last page.
At one point Robert Reith tells us, “laugh yourself silly or be sick. I don’t care”. Oh Robert, that’s why we can’t entirely condemn you, despite what we come to know. At the end of his story, and after a life of play acting and manipulation, Robert seems to have nothing but the truth left to offer. Truth that is ugly and beautiful, and tender and despicable. Thank goodness he decides to write it down.
A great read. Now I want to see it, over two nights as a TV adaptation. Surely that’s not too much to ask?
A thoroughly enjoyable, intriguing read from Ian Thomson. The background of the narrator is convincingly built up from the start, and we watch in fascination his self-absorbed snobbery and vanity grow as the story unfolds. By the time Reith reaches Cambridge I found myself unable to put my kindle down. The plot is beautifully crafted, and Mr Thomson’s prose is elegant and witty. At times I laughed out loud, and in spite of the awful nature of Reith, couldn’t help but be carried along by his fiendish plans and even feel some sympathy for him! Convincing, gripping writing. I really enjoyed the whole ‘guarding the bonfire’ idea, having done the same as a child. And smiled at the literary references in the names of the shops.
Thank you, Mr Thomson. Great stuff.
Pulled into Robert's world from the first page.
I enjoyed this book very much. The author pulls you in from the first page, giving a tantalising amount of information about the story to come. Robert’s voice rings true as he gradually unfolds the story of his life and the revenge he seeks to wreak. And his honesty is as stunning as his cruelty. Well paced, funny and tragic by turns this really is an excellent read.
An excellent debut! Had me gripped from the first few pages.
Absolutely splendid. The novel is described as disquieting and I think this is apt. It is sometimes uncomfortable and mostly intense, periodically lightened by some engaging humour. I was constantly torn between feelings for Robert of empathy, pity, hate, and disgust. I am still at a lost to know how I truly feel, perhaps not unlike the principal character.
Whilst reading, the recounting of Robert’s youth began to feel too drawn out and the denouement slightly abrupt. However, on reflection the balance between the past and present is actually well-managed and amplifies the significance of a lifetime of waiting/wasting.