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by James Manlow
John Murray, August 2004
279 pages
ISBN: 0719566487

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

The book opens with the narrator, Jack, confined by the local police in a small hotel room in the French town of Rennes. Whilst he awaits the arrival of the English police in the shape of a chap called Maguire, Jack proceeds to narrate the events of the past few years which have brought him to this place and time.

It starts with his upbringing as an only child to a single parent, his love of astronomy and how he changed his name from Prentis to Jack to avoid ridicule and moves on to university and meeting his French wife, Anne-Marie and their subsequent life in Derby before finally to what transpired to bring the police down on Jack.

This is really a love story which culminates in a crime. The love the couple had to start with becomes submerged in the daily routine of existing, working, eating, until a catalyst provokes an event that makes them reassess their relationship and their futures.

This was an enjoyable read and for the most part an easy read, except that Jack is a scientist and every now and again there would be a page full of physics such as light cones, the Uncertainty Principle and Schrödinger's cat to name a few topics. This was interesting if a bit head scratchy for those of us who didn't do the O Level.

At first the reader has no idea why Jack is in custody, though we know it's something to do with his marriage as a wedding ring is part of the evidence Maguire is bringing with him. Has Jack killed Anne-Marie? Has he killed anyone? After the suspense of wondering what did happen, I wasn't let down when I knew the reality but I would say that if the parties involved just told the truth to the police then their lives would be much happier than the direction the book was taking them in. A very good debut novel.

Reviewed by Karen Meek, October 2004

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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