Keywords: Fiction

Title: Abuse, Cocaine and Soft Furnishings

Author: Andrew Sparke

Publisher: APS Publications

ISBN: 978-0957621121


Abuse, Cocaine and Soft Furnishings is both a thriller and a love story set in Lincoln and Istanbul. This is a first novel from Andrew Sparke and is certainly impressive as such; I was hooked from the first page. He has a great writing style - short sentences that move the story along, while also managing to somehow to be pretty evocative, giving substance to the settings, particularly of Lincoln. I like writing that makes me feel I know where I am and this does - not through lengthy description, but by making each word count. There is definitely a sense that the author has an intimacy with the characters and places, which gives them a ring of truth.

Written from the viewpoint of the main character (and I've only just realised that we never learn his name, which I guess is one of the reasons we really feel we're in his head), the story moves backwards and forwards from past to present enabling the reader to gradually make sense of present events in relation to the past, as the story continues to unfold. It's a neat hook that keeps the reader gripped, wanting to find out why certain things happened at the same time as wanting to know what the outcome will be. One criticism I have is that there are a couple of times when this to-ing and fro-ing becomes confusing.

The love story begins in the past, in the second chapter of the book and adds another perspective as it intertwines with the twists and turns of the thriller aspect of the book. It is told with complete honesty on the part of the main character, from when it is first introduced in the second chapter. It was actually a shock to the system to have such raw tenderness voiced by this character and I have to admit it even made me feel a little uncomfortable. It is interesting though, and perhaps my reaction says something about the expectations we can have of how male behaviour will be presented in literature.

All in all this is an enjoyable read and I think this writer is one to look out for in future. It is apparently the first book of a trilogy, set in Lincoln, the second of which is due to be published in Sept 2014. I look forward to it.

Review © Irene Kappes, 2014. Site © London Book Review 2014. Published April 20 2014