Number of pages: 156
This book opens with the discovery of a woman's body in a canal in a Scottish river. The premise suggested a straightforward murder mystery book, so reading this, I was surprised when it became against the love life of the main protagonist, Joe.
I was struck quite fast that Joe did not appear to be a likeable character; in the book, he lives on a barge with his friend Leslie, who is married to Ella, and has a son with her. The only issue is that Joe and Ella are having an affair; they play footsie under the table while Leslie is around, and have sex in the barge while he is out of sight.
I was a bit confused at first as to why the narrative had gone in this direction, with only fleeting references to the body in the river (at one point Joe and Leslie look in the local paper to see if the incident is mentioned) but there is a big plot twist half way through. I can't really say anything more about the plot without spoiling things, but needless to say, my perspective of events was changed completely at the beginning of the book's second part.
Joe was an obvious anti-hero character, and seemed to be someone completely incapable of doing the right thing, but the story was compelling, and had some moments that could have been straight out of the plotline for an Alfred Hitchcock film.
The book is told entirely in the first person by Joe, and has a couple of flashbacks. While I noticed at times that the narration felt a bit too long winded (some sentences seemed far too long) the book was pleasingly short, so I was able to read it over the bank holiday weekend. It is a book that I'd recommend, as long as you're not looking for a "feelgood" read; I've seen this described as a "noir" novel, and with good reason - the plot just gets bleaker and bleaker, and there is no happy ending; you have been warned.
Next book: The Eyes of Darkness (Dean Koontz)