Anonymous caller: This Plague of Souls, by Mike McCormack, reviewed

Mike McCormack is much garlanded. He won the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature with his first collection of stories; the Goldsmith’s Prize followed in 2016, along with the Irish Book of the Year Award and the International Dublin Literary Award, for his novel Solar Bones. A book-length, single- sentence analysis of a man’s life, that story sprang off the page with the force of a blow.  This Plague of Souls, his fifth novel, is more distanced. Not a story with a beginning, middle and end, it circles in widening gyres, swooping now and then on to a tightly focused moment as its ambiguous hero tries to make sense of an

Why are crime writers so weird?

What a weird lot crime writers are. I don’t come to this conclusion lightly, since I’m a crime writer myself, but on the evidence of this magisterial but wickedly entertaining book the conclusion is inescapable. As you turn the pages, the evidence mounts up. One crime writer has been considered a serious candidate for sainthood and another has been convicted of murder. Wilkie Collins simultaneously maintained two mistresses and their children but never bothered to marry either. Mary Roberts Rinehart, an early 20th-century queen of American suspense fiction, narrowly escaped being murdered by her chef because she wouldn’t promote him to butler. Agatha Christie famously engineered her own disappearance, and