What the blurb says: “In awe of his wife, hounded by his agent and ignored by his editor, crime novelist David Slavitt finds his life is spiralling out of control. As his wife grows increasingly distant and his agent insists that his new book needs more violence – a lot more violence – David is getting worried. He needs to do something if he is to save his career, and his marriage. But just how far is this most mild-mannered of crime writers prepared to go? And who is the person really pulling the strings in his story? In this ingenious crime novel, there is more than one mystery to be solved.”
I think the first thing that attracted me to this book was its cover – bright and funky with a rather retro-cool design. So, I picked it up and starting reading, and the story was just as fun – quirky and really intriguing.
It’s like two crime books in one. The first story is of crime writer, David Slavitt, whose career is stalling and knows he needs to pull a bestseller out of the back to keep his publisher, and his agent, on board. The second story is the crime book he’s writing, based in a small, coastal location near his home and seemingly part-based on the strange experiences he begins to have in his day-to-day life.
As he battles to get to his daily word target, and his anxiety about his future reaches break point, events conspire to make him take his head out the sand and face up to the fact that his beloved wife could be having an affair. He uses the confusion, the paranoia, and the fear she’ll leave him, pouring it into his novel and using it as fuel to write some of the more violent, more gory scenes his agent has constantly urged him to. But, just when the novel is going well, disaster strikes in his personal life and it seems that his fiction and real-life could be more connected than anyone around David had ever expected.
This book was great fun to read, packed with mystery and intrigue, and kept me, as the reader, on my toes as it switched between the fictional book David is writing and his own personal life. I loved how he used the things he saw and experienced in daily life, changed them a bit, and put them into his novel, and the endearing, self-doubting inner monologues he often had while writing. Packed with larger-than-life characters, this is a perfect novel to devour in a weekend, or take on holiday to read poolside.
[Many thanks to Vintage for my copy of My Criminal World]