Friday, 29 July 2016

The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney

(Audiobook read by Shelley Atkinson)

Reviewer: JJ Marsh

What we thought: You can see why this won the Bailey’s Prize.

McInerney has a skill with voice, but not just the one. This novel is populated by voices, personalities and characters, causing the reader to change her/his mind every chapter and make you care about every last one of them, even if they get on your nerves. By the end, it feels like this is your own extended, unruly, frustrating and loveable family.

The book is set in the city of Cork, Ireland. It’s big and small and complex and simple and sad and yes indeed, glorious.

There’s a dead man on the floor and someone has to clear up the mess. One body affects several lives. A criss-crossing series of connections mean that one accident has a ripple effect, disrupting some futures and dredging some pasts. Some stories make you laugh, others induce tears of frustration and impotence. And the chance meetings and coincidences, drawing every thread into the tapestry is beautiful and somehow inevitable.
A wonderful patchwork of stories connect to make a rich, emotionally arresting whole commentary on faith, beliefs and community, as if The Sopranos was set in Cork.

I listened to the audio version and Shelley Atkinson’s talented voice draws you into the story so effectively, you feel like more of a bystander than a reader.

A real treat.

You’ll enjoy this if you liked: The Works by Joseph Connolly, The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling or Inishowen by Joseph O’Connor

Avoid if you don’t like: Social commentary, swearing, violence

Ideal accompaniments: Pork scratchings, a glass of Tullamore Dew and The Pogues singing Dirty Old Town

Genre: Literary fiction 

Buy on Amazon

The Moth Catcher by Ann Cleeves

Reviewer: Gillian Hamer, author of The Charter, Closure, Complicit, Crimson Shore & False Lights. (

What we thought: I am a huge fan of Ann Cleeves and her style of writing. I love her Shetland series and I equally adore her Vera series. So, you can probably tell already that this is going to be a glowing review.

Characterisation is one of Cleeves’s major strengths. Every character in the book is a living, breathing, believable person in their own right, with their own idiosyncrasies, their own strengths and weaknesses. And strong characterisation is important in this novel as we are faced with a murder in a small, rural community where every single member of the locality could be a suspected killer. And with so many lives to juggle, it could be easy for the characters to blur, but Cleeves does an excellent job balancing each one throughout.

Vera and her team find themselves dealing with a double murder enquiry, when two male victims, who initially seem to have no connection with each other are found dead in and around the grounds of a country estate. With Vera’s instinct and grit, she soon begins to peel away the layers of each person’s life story, until a connection is discovered, and the killer is unmasked.

There are the usual twists and turns, and moments of conflict and drama, that mark our Cleeves’s clever writing style and attention to detail. But most of all for anyone who enjoys crime fiction, this is a lesson in how to write a pacy, gripping page turner, without the need for melodrama or clever deception. A thoroughly solid, entertaining read, and as ever I look forward to the next one.

You’ll enjoy this if you like: Val McDermid, Peter James, Ian Rankin.

Avoid if you don’t like: Clever female leads.

Ideal accompaniments: Takeaway pizza and a bottle of Guinness.

Genre: Crime Fiction.

Available on Amazon

Her Turn to Cry by Chris Curran

Reviewer: Liza Perrat, author of Spirit of Lost Angels, Wolfsangel and Blood Rose Angel

What we thought: Having loved Chris Curran’s debut novel Mindsight, I was eagerly awaiting her second and Her Turn to Cry proved to be just as gripping and page-turning.

It is 1965 and Joycie Todd, a famous model, lives with her photographer boyfriend, Marcus. She seems to have it all. However, we soon learn that events from Joycie’s past have left her damaged and unhappy. Despite Marcus bolstering her modelling career, and his obvious love for her, Joycie is unable to reciprocate his attentions.

Growing up in the 1950s, with her father and his friend as a popular theatre act, Joycie’s mother disappears. Rumour says she ran off with a man, but when Joycie finds a bloodstained rug under the bed, and is haunted by nightmares and snippets of memories from her past, she begins to ask questions. When Joycie reconnects with her aunt, she is propelled to seek the truth about her parents, if she is ever to settle in her present life.

The author smoothly switches between the past and the present, as we follow Joycie on her gripping journey towards the truth. I had a real sense of the 50s dilapidated English coastal towns and the performers of the old music halls, along with the backstage atmosphere, right to “present” day 1965.

Themes of abuse and power are deftly handled, yet the author doesn’t shy away from the realities of those times.

I found Her Turn to Cry an addictive page-turner, as Joycie develops and eventually blooms into her true self. With incredible suspense, excellently-drawn characters and a thrilling plot, I would highly recommend this to readers of crime and psychological thrillers.

You’ll like this if you enjoy:
Crime Fiction, tales of dark family secrets.

Avoid if you don’t like:
stories that deal with abuse of power, prejudice and hatred.

Ideal accompaniments: Serve of fish and chips on the harbourfront.

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Available on Amazon

Friday, 22 July 2016

Hampstead Fever by Carol Cooper

Reviewer: Liza Perrat, author of Spirit of Lost Angels, Wolfsangel and Blood Rose Angel

What we thought: I’m always keen to read the sequel to books I’ve enjoyed, so was delighted to find Carol Cooper had written Hampstead Fever, following her wonderfully entertaining debut, One Night at the Jacaranda. I felt I was meeting old friends again, following their lives and interactions which began during a night of speed dating at the Jacaranda Club. However, it is not just the old friends we catch up with; new characters, and events, come into play in Hampstead Fever.

Through witty and entertaining dialogue, and suspense-infused events –– adultery, a mysterious illness, break ups and reunions –– the author vibrantly depicts the singles’ scene in London, and the lives of those playing it out. We empathise with her characters, their strengths and their flaws, as they each find themselves caught up in complicated webs.

Carol Cooper’s experience as a doctor shines through in her meticulous research, her compassion and her empathy, all of which add many more layers to this tale than is at first imagined.

If you’re looking for an easy, page-turning read this summer, I would highly recommend you grab a copy of Hampstead Fever!

You’ll like this if you enjoy: Carol Cooper’s One Night at the Jacaranda

Avoid if you don’t like:
tales of interacting human lives.

Ideal accompaniments: Cold glass of bubbly

Genre: Contemporary fiction

Available on Amazon

Outcast by Dianne Noble

ReviewerJJ Marsh

What we thought: A coming-of-age story with a difference.

Rose is happy, running a Cornish café and regaining her independence after her failed marriage. But when her daughter refuses to return from her gap year in India, Rose realises that an email just won’t cut it. If she really wants to prove to Ellie that she cares, she has to go to India and meet Ellie on her own terms.

The main strand of this novel is Rose’s change – she acclimatises not just to India, but to her daughter’s personality, Kolkata, heat, the caste system and the everyday injustices inflicted on society’s poorest. She begins to understand how much the volunteers matter to the children, who have, quite literally, nothing else. She also begins to understand how wide the breach between herself and Ellie remains.

In parallel, another mother/daughter relationship follows a less positive trajectory. Hannah’s looking after the café in Cornwall. She loves it. The responsibility, the order, the routine suit her perfectly and get her away from her dopehead mother. She cares for the customers, runs the place with diligence and imagination, trying to live up to Rose’s standards. Then her mother arrives in a police car, after accidentally burning down her caravan.

This is an unexpectedly touching and truthful novel of family relationships, which can lift you up or drag you down. Rose breaks her seal of safety and enters a harsh world of uncertainty, dirt and humanity. Her compassion and sympathy involve, teach and ultimately change her.

Compassion and loyalty coupled with a sense of responsibility influence Hannah, but not in the same way. Her mother’s self-indulgence and all she thought she’d escaped follow her, tainting her new life and testing her love to the limit.

This novel is as transformative as it is absorbing. Watching these characters change takes us with them, in full sensory and emotional detail. Noble conjures cultural shocks in such immersive prose – whether the limited options of a small Cornish town or the unlimited dangers of a Kolkata slum – the reader is there: hot, angry, confused, disgusted, sad, itchy and overjoyed.

This beautifully written book transports you to a place where the foreign and familiar are equally scary. A thoroughly absorbing read.

You’ll enjoy this if you liked: Heat and Dust by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, Snowdrops by AD Miller or The Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

Avoid if you don’t like: Realistic descriptions of the lives of Dalits (the lowest caste), detail of Indian city life, emotional upheaval

Ideal accompaniments: Spicy samosas, smoky chai and Ancestral Lullabies by The Psychedelic Muse

Genre: Contemporary, women's fiction

Available on Amazon

Mosquitoes by John R McKay

Reviewer: Jerome Griffin

What we thought: Mosquitoes is a rage against the machine struggle by an everyman frustrated with his life and the establishment. John McKay conjures images of a weary northern soul who is desperate to better the lot of his and his wife’s lives, but meets irresistible force after immovable object at every turn.

The story unfolds across two timelines. In the present, our protagonist, Alex Sumner, is incarcerated in a mental healthcare unit and his treatment whilst there delves into his recent past, which McKay uses to transport us to the backstory of how he has arrived at such a sorry situation. In these flashbacks we learn that he has grown bitter and impatient with everything in his life. His bosses are incompetent pen pushers, while his peers rise up the ranks despite their ineptitude and because they play the corporate three bags full game. Outside of work he is surrounded by morons incapable of holding a coherent conversation and at home his wife has almost become a virtual stranger.

In so many ways Mosquitoes is a snapshot of real life.

The one hope he has for his future is his novel which, by his own admission, is a brilliant masterpiece. It's in the hands of a well-established agent in London who is bound to love it. It's right up her street, or so he thinks.

Inevitably the last straw of annoyance cripples the camel and he embarks on a one-man campaign to shake things up a little and take control of his life. Just like Brexit only with more of an after plan! With every step he gets thumped ever harder by another wake-up call from his job to his marriage, and from his so-called friends to his shattered dreams. As each hit lands he descends further into a self-destructive path of mayhem, which spirals out of control at breakneck speed before arriving at his current location.

On one level, Mosquitoes is the tale of a regular guy trying to cope with his own existence, while on another it is a savage indictment of 21st century Britain.

McKay reminds us that we all have our own journey to make and none of us knows the route or destination. All we have is the steering wheel and the fuel. As individuals we can’t beat the system. By the same token, we can choose our battles and strive to find a path to our own peace.

You’ll like this if you like: Stories of revenge, redemption and coming to terms with the hand you’ve been dealt.

Avoid if you don’t like: A miserable, negative protagonist.

Ideal accompaniments: Panic by The Smiths and any ale except London Pride.

Genre: Contemporary fiction

Friday, 15 July 2016

Holding the Man by Timothy Conigrave

Reviewer: David C Dawson

What we thought: Holding the Man was first published in 1995, a year after the author’s death. It was released as a reasonably good film in 2016, reviving some interest in the book.

I strongly recommend that you read the book first. It is a beautiful love story, simply told with a refreshing directness and honesty. It is both heart breaking and very funny.

Timothy Conigrave charts his lifelong love affair with John Caleo. He starts in the mid-1970s, when they first meet at an all boys Catholic school in Melbourne, Australia. Timothy loves literature and performing in the school play. John is the captain of the football team.

The pair of them were clearly ahead of their time. Homosexuality remained illegal in Melbourne until 1981. In some parts of Australia it was illegal until 1990. Yet the two teenagers declare their love for each other openly while still at school. Their honesty brings them into trouble with the school and with John’s parents. And yet they refuse to comply with the conventions of the time and hide their relationship.

When they leave school, Timothy goes away to drama school and John remains in Melbourne. Timothy has many encounters with other men, but eventually returns home and is reunited with John. They then share a happy and loving life together until John’s untimely death from AIDS in 1992.

This could be the story of any couple, gay or straight. They have highs and they have lows. From being young, teenage lovers, their relationship is tested and strengthens over the years. When they are both diagnosed as HIV-positive, the ultimate test of their relationship begins. The result is a deepening love of great beauty and tenderness.

Conigrave’s writing style is simple and clear. He is very open about his weaknesses and his guilt about his lack of fidelity to John. It feels like we are hearing John’s voice represented accurately in the story, even though he is not there to confirm the events.

I urge you to read this book. It is emotionally satisfying and tells of a world of intolerance that is still very recent history.

You’ll enjoy this if you like: Shameless by Paul Burston

Avoid if you don’t like: Occasional explicit sex description

Ideal accompaniments: A decent Australian beer

Genre: Romance, LGBTQ

Available on Amazon

When Broken Glass Floats by Chanrithy Him

Reviewer: JJ Marsh

A book detailing a child’s survival in 1970 Cambodia is not a novel. Highs and lows orchestrated by the author are absent here. This is not a feel-good story. It is a stark revelation of what it meant to be a child under one of the most ruthless regimes in Asia.

This is the early 70s, when Cambodia became an experiment in radical socialism, and the Khmer Rouge took power and attempted to return the country to its 'pure', peasant history. Intellectuals were persecuted, farmers lauded and the entire population coerced into forced labour, resulting in mass malnutrition, disease, death and genocide. Figures vary but the commonly accepted fact is that two million people died, which equated to 25% of the country’s population.

Him’s experience tells her story from the inside. The explosion of the Vietnam war onto their own soil, the break-up of her family, the loyal bonds of blood and country, the grinding misery of starvation and physical deprivation all take us with her, step by uncertain step. Her description of the ‘hospital’ in which her mother lay is almost unbearable.

All this seen through a child’s eyes, conditioned to good manners and respect, to be thrown into a feral environment. Survival, food and reducing empathy to its narrowest circles is at the heart of this moving and powerful narrative.

It’s a tough read, taking the reader along a bleak journey, with small spots of sunshine lit by human kindness. Yet all is overshadowed by a power-hungry ideology and its crushing hold on the population.

This is an important book, the human face of a political tragedy, and a sobering read for enthusiasts of dystopian YA.

You’ll enjoy this is you liked: Nothing to Envy by Barbara Dymick, Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Minaret by Leila Aboulela

Avoid if you dislike: Harsh truths about survival, extreme regimes and a child's eye view

Ideal Accompaniments: Fish-heads in rice, cold water and the theme to The Killing Fields

Genre: Non-fiction, memoir

Available on Amazon

The Nearness of You by Sareeta Domingo

Reviewer: Liza Perrat, author of Spirit of Lost Angels, Wolfsangel and Blood Rose Angel

What we thought: Sareeta Domingo’s debut novel, The Nearness of You is a heart-breaking romantic tale. But there is not only romance; the story also touches on more serious and dramatic topics.

In her twenties, Taylor Jenkins lives with her best friend Marcy, and Marcy’s boyfriend, Ryan, whom Taylor had previously met at a cinema, forming an instant connection with him. When Marcy leaves on a world dancing tour, Taylor and Ryan are left to struggle with their growing feelings for each other.

But that is not Taylor’s only battle. When she finds a man’s body floating in the Thames, memories of her own mother’s suicide surface, and this also becomes the story of Taylor coming to terms with that tragedy.

I really enjoyed the relationship between Taylor and her friend, Marcy. Best friends since Taylor’s mother’s suicide, the share a strong bond. But is that tie strong enough to weather the love that develops between Ryan and Taylor?

As Taylor –– uncertain about her future after graduating from college, and stuck working in a bookshop –– witnesses the dreams of those around her coming true, she begins to question what she needs to find her own happiness.

The author writes beautifully –– prose filled with tension and heartache –– evoking Taylor’s feelings with deep empathy. I would highly recommend this moving tale of loss, true love, real life and friendships.

You’ll like this if you enjoy: Women’s Fiction, Romance, Drama.

Avoid if you don’t like:
Stories dealing with suicide and what it does to those left behind.

Ideal accompaniments:
Comfy, fireside armchair in winter

Genre: Romance

Available on Amazon

Friday, 8 July 2016

The Way Back to Florence by Glenn Haybittle

Reviewer: Julia Sutton

What we thought: Here is a novel of stature, and a living portrait of a city. By means of fresh and arresting writing that engages all of the senses, it immerses the reader totally in another time and place. Beautiful Florence, ravaged by the second world war. Its ancient bridges, mined by the Wehrmacht and patrolled by Fascist militia, await their bombardment by The Allies. Jews are on the run, informers are rife, secret police and torturers lurk, and voluble Italians no longer finish their sentences, but live their daily lives vicariously exiled from themselves.

September 1943. The novel opens with Isabella (Italian), a painter at work in the intimacy of her studio. The air raid siren shrieks, and then the sky outside her window fills with the familiar drone of warplanes. In one of the planes -- V Victor, a Lancaster bomber -- sits English pilot Freddie Hartman. The bomb doors open above the neighbourhood of Florence where his home is, and where his wife still has her studio. Looking down, he can identify it, close by the English cemetery and Maestro’s atelier, where he and Isabella met as students in 1937. They have been separated since Italy declared war on Britain and France.

The extreme tension of this opening lays bare to the reader not only that they are in for a nail-biting ride, but the pervading atmosphere and underlying themes of the narrative. Intimacy and the many ways it is eroded by war. Separation and displacement. There is humour too, among the lads at the RAF base in Lincolnshire, from where Freddie and his crew set off on bomb runs, trusting in their luck. And some awe-inspiring descriptions of the night sky in these chapters put me right there in the cockpit.

Friend Oskar, a German jew and fellow student at Maestro’s atelier, turned to dance as a profession and moved to Paris with his French wife. At the 1942 round up, he escaped with his six-year-old daughter Esme, but not his wife. Oskar, fleeing south with Esme, touchingly prepares the child for life with him as a fugitive. But by the time they cross into Italy, deportations are leaving from Genoa and Florence. Marina, Isabella’s neighbour, was once engaged to Francesco, but his Jewish mother is also a fascist, and objected to the match.

These five fascinating characters populate the narrative and also structure it contrapuntally through their alternating points of view. To craft a novel from five distinct perspectives requires ambition and immense skill. And the result is a feat of architecture worthy of beautiful Florence and deserving our highest praise.

You’ll enjoy this if you like: In Love and War by Alex Preston; 22 Britannia Road by Amanda Hodgkinson; Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres.

Avoid if you don’t like: sustained suspense, scenes of torture.

Ideal accompaniments: Barolo and the Bach Cello sonatas.

Genre: Literary fiction. Historical fiction.

Available on Amazon

Alone on a Wide Wide Sea By Michael Morpurgo

Reviewer: Liza Perrat, author of Spirit of Lost Angels, Wolfsangel and Blood Rose Angel

What we thought: An incredibly moving, powerful and compelling story from the talented Michael Morpurgo, Alone on a Wide Wide Sea is based on the harrowing scandal of the Child Migration Scheme of the mid-nineteenth century, where thousands of children were shipped to Australia, mainly to solve the problem of overcrowding in British orphanages.

Orphaned during WW11, six-year old Arthur Hobhouse is separated from his sister, Kitty, when he is sent on a horrendous voyage to Australia in 1947, losing not only his birth country and everything he knew, but also his very identity.

Throughout his early harsh and cruel years in the Australian outback, Arthur gained solace from his only possession: a “lucky” key his sister, Kitty gave him before they were separated, as well as the song London Bridge is Falling Down playing over and over in his mind.

Despite suffering unspeakable hardships with fellow orphan Marty, Arthur ends up becoming a master-boat builder. He builds a yacht for his daughter Allie, in which she wants to sail to England in search of Kitty, her father’s long-lost sister.

This is where the second part of the story begins: a largely one-way conversation via email from Allie as she embarks on her long and difficult voyage to England.

Through his lyrical and moving prose, the author evokes a whole array of emotions: desperation, sadness and misery, through to frustration and inspiration.

Apart from the harrowing issues of the treatment suffered by the orphans, this story also explores the strength of family ties and the need to know who you are, and where you come from, something that was stripped from the children as soon as they set foot on the boat that would take them to Australia.

Based on fact, this heart-warming, heart-wrenching story brings history alive, and I would recommend it not only to young readers, but for adults too.

You’ll like this if you enjoy: 20th century Australian and British history scandals. Other books and films dealing with the Child Migrant Scheme, such as Lesley Pearse’s Trust Me, and Margaret Humphrey’s Empty Cradles, the film: The Leaving of Liverpool and the documentary: Sunshine and Oranges.

Avoid if you don’t like: Cruel and ruthless treatment of helpless children.

Ideal accompaniments: A warm, comforting Horlicks.

Genre: Historical fiction.

Available on Amazon

Love Across A Broken Map by The Whole Kahani

Reviewer: Catriona Troth

What We Thought:
Love Across a Broken Map, as the title suggests, is a collection of stories where, for one reason or another, love fails, or fragments or misses its target.

The anthology has been put together by The Whole Kahani, a collective of British fiction writers of South Asian origin.

It opens with the exquisitely written ‘Watermelon Seeds’ by CG Menon, where the friendship of two schoolgirls – one Tamil and one Cantonese – is tripped up by their first taste of love.

The stories then take us on a meandering path around the world and through the shades of human experience. We step into the shoes of a high-class gigolo who makes the mistake of falling in love with a client, and a married woman meeting a man whose mistress she was many years ago. We encounter twin sisters who are rivals for the same man, a lesbian who uses her Staffordshire terrier as a barrier to keep out the world, and two people who are together only because they each had a mother who committed suicide. We experience domestic violence, and the obsessive love of the fan.

In ‘Entwined Destinies’ by Shabani Lal, the story father and daughter has the tragic symmetry of O. Henry’s classic ‘Gift of the Magi.’ Farrah Yusuf’s final story, ‘By Hand,’ encapsulates the loneliness of modern urban life.

This is a collection full of regret and missed opportunities. But the writing is too beautiful for the cumulative effect to be depressing. The stories surprise, unsettle, but enchant too. Once or twice, in the most unlikely circumstances, we are offered hope that love can make it across the fissures of the broken map.

The ten authors whose stories make up the collection are all new to me, but I will be looking out for more from each of them.

The Whole Kahani is a collective of British fiction writers of South Asian origin. The group was formed in 2011 to provide a creative perspective that straddles cultures and boundaries both emotional and geographical. Its aim is to give a new voice to old stories and increase the visibility of South Asian writers in Britain.

Farhana Shaikh interviews some of the authors for The Asian Writer about the inspiration for their stories here.

You'll Enjoy This If You Loved: Brick Walls by Saadia Faruqi;  Spilling the Beans by Just Write

Avoid If You Dislike: Sad love stories

Perfect Accompaniment: A cup of Lapsang Suchong tea

Genre: Short Stories

Available on Amazon

Friday, 1 July 2016

Exit Stage Left by Adam Croft

Reviewer: Gillian Hamer, author of The Charter, Closure, Complicit, Crimson Shore & False Lights. (

What we thought: This novella is the first book in Croft’s Kempston Hardwick series and does a good job introducing us not only to the characters but also to the author’s unique style.

Kempston Hardwick is a modern-day Sherlock Holmes, sly as a fox, sarcastic and succinct, and with observations skills needed in his role as amateur detective.

We meet Kempston in the Freemason’s Arms where a random meeting with his soon-to-be sidekick, Ellis Flint, turns very quickly into their first murder investigation. Charlie Sparks, a celebrity comedian on his way down the greasy ladder of fame is found dead in the Freemason’s before he can go on stage, and it’s down to Kempton and Flint to work out the who and why culminating in a Poirot-style dramatic reveal at the conclusion.

I liked the overall tone of the writing, although I was at times confused by the modern day setting morphing with the past. The pace cantered along, and kept the story moving at all times. There’s something very engaging about Kempston Hardwick as a character, particularly in his overblown English vocabulary, that would make him an interesting lead role in this crime series.

If you’d like a short, light crime drama in the style of a cross between Holmes and Midsomer Murders this is one for you – an entertaining and enjoyable read you can manage in one afternoon session! And if Kempston takes your fancy there’s a whole series follow-on for you to enjoy!

You’ll enjoy this if you like: Tom Bale, B.A Paris, Linda Hall.

Avoid if you don’t like: English wit and dodgy characters.

Ideal accompaniments: Port and blue cheese on crackers.

Genre: Crime Fiction.

Available from Amazon

The Ninth Life of Louis Drax by Liz Jensen

ReviewerJJ Marsh

What We Thought: A strange mixture of psychological detective story and disturbing exploration of the human mind.

Louis Drax has a superbly intelligent but skewed view of the world. He knows more about his parents’ relationship(s) than they do and knows he adds to their problems. He’s accident-prone and has used up, according to his mother, eight of his nine lives. When the family celebrate Louis’s ninth birthday with a picnic, Louis falls into a ravine. Life no. 9.

Louis, in a coma, narrates his experience with the same keen observation as when he was awake. In his coma, with Gustave who lives in his head, he feels comfortable. He feels safe.

Dr Dannachet tries to coax him back to the world of life, where he makes his mother cry, where his father is absent, where his peers call him Wacko Boy and where he has to spend an hour a week with Fat Perez, talking about his feelings.

This book is deeply moving and upsets every kind of expectation. Yet creates characters you cannot help but embrace. The confrontation between medicine and mind throws up questions about ethics and personal principle, while telling a fascinating human story.

The film’s out soon and I’m intrigued to see how such an internal novel can be made 3D. Read it quick, before the film comes out, so over post-cinema nachos, you can claim the higher ground.

You’ll enjoy this if you liked: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon, Mailbox by Nancy Freund, Wild Boy by Jill Dawson

Avoid if you don’t like: Unusual storytelling, psychological uncertainties, difference

Ideal accompaniments: Tonic water, saucisson sec and Astor Piazzolla’s Soledad

Genre: Contemporary, literary fiction

Available on Amazon