Michael Paraskos

Like Birdsong – only cheerful

It is difficult to know whether Clive Aslet intended a comparison between his debut novel, The Birdcage, set in Salonica during the first world war, and Sebastian Faulks’s similarly titled Birdsong. Whilst Faulks’s novel sits comfortably within the generally accepted narrative that the first world war was an unmitigated disaster, with lion-like Tommies led by

What would Raymond Chandler do?

If the inclusion of the erstwhile master of the genre, Raymond Chandler, as a fictonalised character in a pastiche 1930s detective novel is a bit of a gimmick, it is a nice gimmick. In The Kept Girl it keeps us guessing whether the author, Kim Cooper, believes Chandler’s greatest invention, Philip Marlowe, was a self-portrait,

Philip Marlowe returns with bark but no bite

With so much Nordic noir around, it’s a relief to return to the granddaddy of them all, the hard-boiled private dick, Philip Marlowe. Perhaps it’s inevitable that Benjamin Black’s reboot of Raymond Chandler’s great creation does not have the bite of Chandler in an age when the casual racism, sexism and downright class snobbery of

What a coincidence

If you are going to read a novel that plays with literary conventions you want it written with aplomb. In Three Brothers we are not disappointed, as Peter Ackroyd shows a deftness of touch that comes from being a real master. Here his theme is families. Or rather, it is London. Or rather, it is

Whirligig, by Magnus Mcintyre – review

I do not have much time for the idea of the redemptive power of the countryside. I am not alone in this. Even theologians tend to dream of the day they enter the City of God rather than 1,000 acres of nowhere. But I will buy into a modern fairytale extolling the virtues of nature

An everyday story of country folk

It is not a criticism of Philip Almond that The Lancashire Witches, published to mark the 400th anniversary of the Pendle witch trials, is a depressing read. On the contrary, Almond has produced a fine and lively study of the events in 1612 when eight women and two men were tried for witchcraft. What is

Cracks in the landscape

Sartre tried to prove that hell is other people by locking three strangers in a room for eternity and watching them torture each other. Similarly Will Cohu seems determined to show that hell is our own families. What is remarkable is that Cohu’s family members were not a collection of horrific monsters. On the contrary,

Trouble at mill

I have some sympathy with the pioneering incomers who moved to the Yorkshire mill town of Hebden Bridge in the 1970s. At the time Hebden was in a near terminal decline, its factories closing in rapid succession. As a result, the town suffered one of the fastest depopulations ever seen in Britain, as the more