“The Power”

Perhaps I should avoid books that use the word 'thriller' on the front or back cover. It isn't that "The Power" is inadequate in any way; indeed it has all the required attributes - pace, tension, the gradual build to the climax. You can easily imagine it as being transferred to the screen in a … Continue reading “The Power”

“Telling the time” – 100-word challenge

Horse races marked the passage of time; one of the few things he and his father shared as he grew up. At Doncaster, the Lincoln heralded the start of Spring, the St. Ledger the end of Summer. What was it about Doncaster and the seasons? He had been there once, disquieted by the cavernous betting … Continue reading “Telling the time” – 100-word challenge

What’s it all for..?

At our writing group this week we had a panel-led session on “Publishing - Then and Now”. Even though I’ve been fortunate enough to have seen both sides of this particular coin first-hand, it struck me how irrelevant the ‘Then’ part of the conversation feels now. Like many things, it seems a world away; a … Continue reading What’s it all for..?

“The Underground Railroad”

Over the last few years I have used the Pulitzer Prize as one of my guides for the fiction I read. Like the Booker, it is often won by exceptional novels and both prizes have, over the years, introduced me to some good books and great writers. Having said that, "The Underground Railroad", by Colson … Continue reading “The Underground Railroad”

“The Essex Serpent”

I'm not entirely sure what to say about Sarah Perry's "The Essex Serpent". At first it felt a little like a slow pastiche of Thomas Hardy or even Dickens. I was worried that it was going to be too predictable. But at some point - probably half-way through - it seemed to take on a … Continue reading “The Essex Serpent”


Islanders They have a special aura, those fine-tuned to life on the harsh isles. Standing on a cliff, they watch the sea retreat in a white flag of foam, their remoteness permitting them to live as much in myth as on a map. Yet like us, they boast no divine insight, and try to see … Continue reading Islanders

Making the connection

He stood on the platform looking beyond the Booking Office towards the tunnel mouth. Waiting was always like this. He could see Parks standing near the Gents, one hand on the trolley, ready to move forward to take the load from the Guard’s van. Mrs Beech, with her two tearaways, was sitting on the bench … Continue reading Making the connection

The Seeds

They grew quickly. According to the details on the packet, his front garden - and where he intended to plant them, between the large grey slabs of his driveway - was far from ideal: it had the wrong aspect, was on a slope, was overhung by the large oak. In spite of his objections, the … Continue reading The Seeds

Knocking-off time.

No-one was smiling. Knocking-off time on a Friday afternoon, the weekend ahead. Kids there to meet fathers; Jack in the foreground, ready to cycle all the way to Ongar to meet his lass. But no-one was smiling. I’d heard rumours about the accident of course. As I made my way along the road from the … Continue reading Knocking-off time.