The international brigades

Haunted by the past: Last Days in Cleaver Square, by Patrick McGrath, reviewed

At the risk of encroaching on Spectator Competition territory, what is the least surprising thing for any given narrator in a particular author’s work to say? (For one of Irvine Welsh’s, a single word of four letters might be enough.) In the case of Patrick McGrath, I’d suggest, the answer comes on page 55 of his new novel: ‘I confess I feel that my sanity is under threat.’ McGrath famously grew up in the grounds of Broadmoor, where his father was the medical superintendent, and his consequent lifelong interest in psychiatry is reflected in pretty much all of his fiction. As a rule, if you’re a McGrath protagonist, you’re likely