Keith Ridgway’s seventh book is a sultry, steamy shock of a novel, not least because nine years ago, despite the critical success of Hawthorn & Child, he retired from writing, telling his publishers he was done with making up stories. He also stopped reading — although only for a year, lured back by the likes of Muriel Spark and Georges Simenon’s Maigret series.
Reading made him want to write again. The result is A Shock, a provocative collection of nine interlinked stories, jostled together like neighbours on a London street or regulars in a pub, which is where most of his characters cross paths. The composite form, popular with the likes of Polly Samson, Jennifer Egan and David Szalay, creates something stronger than its parts.