If this all sounds a bit soapish, that is exactly Gale’s intention. For one of the many clever things he does in this novel is to adopt a melodramatic, cinema-style for the Forties, and a faster, television style for the Eighties. In doing this he eschews the rather trendy, laddish literary pyrotechnics of his contemporaries and delivers a novel that is refreshingly fluent, accessible and continually engaging.

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