I’ll have to kill you

J. Robert Lennon

  • The Fall Guy by James Lasdun
    Cape, 266 pp, £12.99, January 2017, ISBN 978 1 910702 83 3

It isn’t until the halfway point of The Fall Guy, James Lasdun’s thrillerish new novel, that we are treated to its first overtly criminal act: breaking and entering. This book is about boundaries – emotional, social and moral – and it is with characteristic obliqueness that Lasdun gives us this first, long anticipated transgression: though the act strikes the reader as insane in its audacity, its import barely registers on Matthew, the book’s protagonist and the perpetrator of the crime. ‘He didn’t appear to be afraid,’ Lasdun writes, in a striking departure from the book’s otherwise airtight third-person limited, as though Matthew has briefly taken leave of his body and is observing himself from a distance. Even as he creeps through the house he has invaded – the house of his cousin’s wife’s secret lover – Matthew feels detached. ‘Even though he was here,’ Lasdun continues, ‘he was still in some mysterious way longing to be here; as if inside the A-frame there should have been another A-frame, with another doorway and another key.’

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