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7 December 1989
Silent Partner 
by Jonathan Kellerman.
Macdonald, 506 pp., £11.95, September 1989, 0 356 17598 7
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‘Murder will out’: The Detective in Fiction 
by T.J. Binyon.
Oxford, 166 pp., £12.95, June 1989, 9780192192233
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Devices and Desires 
by P.D. James.
Faber, 408 pp., £11.99, October 1989, 0 571 14178 1
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Killshot 
by Elmore Leonard.
Viking, 287 pp., £12.95, October 1989, 0 670 82258 2
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Trust 
by George V.Higgins.
Deutsch, 213 pp., £11.95, November 1989, 0 233 98513 1
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Polar Star 
by Martin Cruz Smith.
Collins Harvill, 373 pp., £12.95, October 1989, 0 00 271269 5
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... There is food for comparative thought – well, not real food, more of a light snack – in the fact that the French call roman policier what we would call a crime novel. A sign of our respective allegiances, perhaps, where our hearts are. Of course there don’t have to be police in a roman policier, just the sorts of activity the Police might or ought to be interested in ...

Cromwell’s Coven

John Sutherland

4 June 1987
Witchcraft 
by Nigel Williams.
Faber, 390 pp., £10.95, May 1987, 0 571 14823 9
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Without Falling 
by Leslie Dick.
Serpent’s Tail, 153 pp., £9.95, May 1987, 1 85242 005 7
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Outlaws 
by George V.Higgins.
Deutsch, 360 pp., £10.95, April 1987, 0 233 98110 1
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... In an essay on the death of Macaulay, Thackeray wrote movingly about the British Museum Reading Room, where the historian had done his great work: Many Londoners – not all – have seen the British Museum Library. I have seen all sorts of domes of Peters and Pauls, Sophia, Pantheon – what not? – and have been struck by none of them so much as by that catholic dome in Bloomsbury, under which our million volumes are housed ...

Prodigals

John Sutherland

19 August 1982
A Prodigal Child 
by David Storey.
Cape, 319 pp., £7.50, June 1982, 0 224 02027 7
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The Prodigal Daughter 
by Jeffrey Archer.
Hodder, 447 pp., £7.95, July 1982, 0 340 27687 8
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Ralph 
by John Stonehouse.
Cape, 318 pp., £6.95, May 1982, 0 224 02019 6
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The Man from St Petersburg 
by Ken Follett.
Hamish Hamilton, 292 pp., £7.95, May 1982, 0 241 10783 0
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The Patriot Game 
by George Higgins.
Secker, 237 pp., £7.50, July 1982, 0 436 19589 5
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... David Storey’s new novel begins with a brief prelude reminiscent of The Rainbow’s, tracing the historical mutations of a locality from its natural to its urban (here 1930s) condition. The theme of the novel has other evident similarities with Sons and Lovers ...

Spadework

John Brown

18 November 1982
Shadow Man: The Life of Dashiell Hammett 
by Richard Layman.
Junction, 285 pp., £9.95, August 1981, 0 86245 027 6
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... Universally acclaimed as the pioneer of the modern detective-thriller, Hammett died in 1961, yet this is the first full-length account of his life to appear. In the context of the continuing vogue for biography, such a delay constitutes a small literary mystery, and in the preface to Shadow Man Richard Layman supplies a terse explanation ...
8 July 1993
Swing Hammer Swing! 
by Jeff Torrington.
Secker, 416 pp., £8.99, August 1992, 0 436 53120 8
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Looking for the Possible Dance 
by A.L. Kennedy.
Secker, 254 pp., £7.99, February 1993, 0 436 23321 5
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The Lights Below 
by Carl MacDougall.
Secker, 254 pp., £7.99, February 1993, 9780436270796
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... The opening sentence of Swing Hammer Swing!, Jeff Torrington’s great, boisterous first novel, might serve as a headline announcing his Whitbread Book of the Year Award (‘Literary Outsider wins Whitbread’, ‘Triumph of Thirty-Year Novel’, ‘Jeff’s in the Swing’), or ...
18 September 1980
The Private Diaries of Sir H. Rider Haggard, 1914-1925 
edited by D.S. Higgins.
Cassell, 299 pp., £14.95, May 1980, 0 304 30611 8
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... The large university library I use contains few books which the undergraduates have read virtually to pulp. One is Rider Haggard’s King Solomon’s Mines, published 95 years ago. Its pages are falling out and its binding has been worn to threads and cardboard ...
16 April 2014
... station. Diwana, which opened in 1970, claims that it was the first restaurant in Britain to serve South Indian vegetarian food. It wasn’t the first Asian food outlet in the street: Ambala, now a chain of shops selling Indian sweets, opened in 1965, catering to the immigrants from India and Bangladesh (then East ...

Great Palladium

James Epstein: Treason

7 September 2000
Imagining the King’s Death: Figurative Treason, Fantasies of Regicide, 1793-96 
by John Barrell.
Oxford, 7377 pp., £70, March 2000, 0 19 811292 0
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... The meaning of these strange words was already archaic in the early 1790s when William Pitt’s Government brought an array of British radical reformers to trial for high treason. The words ‘compass’ and ‘imagine’ had entered the English language from law French, and were usually glossed as meaning ‘design’ or ‘intend’. The 1794 treason trials ...

Shaviana

Brigid Brophy

2 December 1982
Bernard Shaw: The Darker Side 
by Arnold Silver.
Stanford, 353 pp., $25, January 1982, 0 8047 1091 0
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Bernard Shaw and Alfred Douglas: A Correspondence 
edited by Mary Hyde.
Murray, 237 pp., £15, November 1982, 0 7195 3947 1
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... The most charming fact I have stumbled on in intellectual history is that Freud and Shaw were shocked by one another. Freud’s wounded romanticism speaks in his reference (in Group Psychology, 1921) to ‘Bernard Shaw’s malicious aphorism to the effect that being in love means greatly exaggerating the difference between one woman and another ...

Diary

Adam Shatz: Ornette Coleman

15 July 2015
... baffling things about America,’ Amiri Baraka wrote in 1963, ‘is that despite its essentially vile profile, so much beauty continues to exist here.’ Perhaps, he wondered, ‘it is because of the vileness, or call it adversity, that such beauty does exist.’ Baraka made the ...

A Djinn speaks

Colm Tóibín: What about George Yeats?

20 February 2003
Becoming GeorgeThe Life of Mrs W.B. Yeats 
by Ann Saddlemyer.
Oxford, 808 pp., £25, September 2002, 0 19 811232 7
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... Man and the Masks, Richard Ellmann wrote about 46 Palmerston Road in Rathmines in Dublin, where George Yeats lived between her husband’s death in 1939 and her own death almost thirty years later. Mrs Yeats lived, Ellmann wrote, among the dead poet’s papers. ‘There in the bookcases ...

Self-Made Women

John Sutherland

11 July 1991
The Feminist Companion to Literature in English: Women Writers from the Middle Ages to the Present 
edited by Virginia Blain, Isobel Grundy and Patricia Clements.
Batsford, 1231 pp., £35, August 1990, 0 7134 5848 8
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The Presence of the Present: Topics of the Day in the Victorian Nove
by Richard Altick.
Ohio State, 854 pp., $45, March 1991, 0 8142 0518 6
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... The Feminist Companion to Literature in English is itself the product of impressive feminist companionship. Listed in the preamble are three editors, four consulting editors, 12 contributing editors, and 54 ‘contributors’ – all women, all university teachers. Academic addresses range over three continents (Asia and Africa are missing, although women writers from those corners of the world are generously represented ...

Diary

Tim Hilton: Art Talk

19 November 1992
... Have you read Glen Matlock’s I was a teenage Sex Pistol? In its own way this is an enlightening book and I like the manner in which the words appear, splattered in a typeface that’s like a modern memorandum or a press release. Young Glen, though he can’t be so young today, had a good ghost writer in Pete Silverton ...

Break their teeth, O God

Colin Kidd: The Trial of Sacheverell

20 August 2014
Faction Displayed: Reconsidering the Impeachment of Dr Henry Sacheverell 
edited by Mark Knights.
Wiley-Blackwell, 132 pp., £19.99, February 2012, 978 1 4443 6187 2
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The State Trial of Doctor Henry Sacheverell 
edited by Brian Cowan.
Wiley-Blackwell, 307 pp., £22.99, November 2012, 978 1 4443 3223 0
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... The birth​ of Prince George obviates the immediate need for the Succession to the Crown Act 2013 which introduced gender equality into the line of succession. Section 2 of the Act addresses, though only in part, another outmoded form of discrimination: ‘A person is not disqualified from succeeding to the crown or from possessing it as a result of marrying a person of the Roman Catholic faith ...

Pseud’s Corner

John Sutherland

17 July 1980
Duffy 
by Dan Kavanagh.
Cape, 181 pp., £4.95, July 1980, 0 224 01822 1
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Moscow Gold 
by John Salisbury.
Futura, 320 pp., £1.10, March 1980, 0 7088 1702 5
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The Middle Ground 
by Margaret Drabble.
Weidenfeld, 248 pp., £5.95, June 1980, 0 297 77808 0
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The Boy Who Followed Ripley 
by Patricia Highsmith.
Heinemann, 292 pp., £6.50, April 1980, 0 434 33520 7
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... Every publication is required, by law I believe, to carry the printer’s name. No such rigorous obligation attaches to statements of authorship. It is a licence that fiction, in particular, has richly exploited. Ever since its rise the novel has flirted with authorial anonymity and pseudonymity ...

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