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December 9, 2020 at 9:42 am #10489Jennifer AltomGuest
At the Chime of a City Clock
(James Ross, #1)
by D.J. Taylor
- ISBN: 9781849010245 (1849010242)
- Author: D.J. Taylor
- Publisher: Constable & Robinson
- Release date: March 25, 2010
- Series: James Ross, #1
- Format: hardcover, 242 pages
- Language: english
About The Book
London’s Bayswater in the summer of 1931 is not the most fashionable of places to live, and the protagonist of DJ Taylor’s strikingly original At the Chime of a City Clock, James Ross, is not comfortable with his lot. He’s a writer, but unfortunately there are no publishers eager to sample his wares. His landlady is breathing down his neck for unpaid rent, and he is forced to try extremely uncongenial occupation to keep body and soul together: pedalling carpet cleaning lotions from door-to-door. His life, however, is about to change — dramatically — when he meets the seductive Suzi, and her mysterious boss, Mr. Rasmussen.
In the vividness of its seedy setting and the evocation of a particular period in British history, Taylor’s highly entertaining book is more than a little reminiscent of that great chronicler of the less-than-salubrious London of this period, Patrick Hamilton. But as the nicely judged retro cover suggests, At the Chime of a City Clock is about crime and femme fatales. But it’s also about more than that, as readers will discover. The aforementioned Mr. Rasmussen may well be a criminal — and certainly his interest in the disused premises over a jeweller’s shop has sinister implications. When a member of West End Central becomes intrigued by Rasmussen’s behaviour, the reluctant James Ross finds himself dragooned into keeping a close watch over Suzi’s boss. And things will come to a head — dramatically — when James is invited to stay at an upscale country weekend in Sussex, where the revelations will come thick and fast.
DJ Taylor is a distinguished critic and biographer (with both Thackeray and Orwell under his belt), but aficionados of the best fictional writing will be aware of his six novels. This latest one — which functions as both as an evocation of an earlier period and as a clever modern riff on familiar themes — is possibly his most accomplished yet. Even if you are not an admirer of Patrick Hamilton, you would do well to pick up this highly intriguing and well-researched mystery. — Barry Forshaw, amazon.co.uk
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