Book The Seventieth

Soho Black by Christopher Fowler

On the streets of London’s fashionable Soho district, several figures move around one another, almost but not quite interacting: A thirty-something film executive, heavily in debt and going through a messy breakup is about to lose his job; a young man wanders the streets wondering what has become of his life; a woman finds herself trapped in her flat after a mysterious run-in with her neighbour; two goons discuss film-scripts as they retrieve bodies and perform other unpleasant tasks; and a pair of unorthodox police officers investigate a gruesome murder.

This story seems to be a love letter to Soho, and a hate-letter to the film production industry. (It is probably worth noting that the author works for a film production company in Soho…) It meanders around, and only barely manages to get to any sort of point at the very end, but it is fun enough. It is certainly evident that Fowler liked writing the two cops more than any of the other characters – and a quick Wikipedia (which the computer just auto-capitalised for me, but it still insists that, for example, “Aeneid” is a spelling error…) search shows that he’s written many books with these characters. The others are all serviceable, and vary from flat to engaging, but none pop on the page like the two detectives. Fowler’s fondness for them fairly crackles off the page.

Not anything that will set the world of literature on fire, but it’s a good wee yarn, as my grandparents probably never actually said.


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