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Throw Me to the Wolves by Patrick McGuinness

Throw Me to the Wolves by Patrick McGuinness
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This “intensely powerful” second novel by poet Patrick McGuinness is loosely based on the 2010 murder of Joanna Yeates, and the “press feeding frenzy” around the initial suspect, retired teacher Christopher Jefferies, said Justine Jordan in The Guardian. Set in a “strange palimpsest of a place” – part Bristol, part “down-at-heel Kent” – it centres on Jefferies’ fictional stand-in, the “otherworldly” Michael Wolphram (also a former teacher), and a pair of cops investigating the case. But while McGuinness has fun with the “colour and cliché” of crime fiction, the novel’s “beating heart” lies in the past – above all, in one character’s traumatic memories of the boarding school he attended decades earlier.

A great deal is “churning away” in this novel, said Melissa Katsoulis in The Times, from the present-day reckoning with historical sexual abuse to the rights and wrongs of Brexit. And it’s all spun in “beautiful, unashamedly intellectual prose”. It’s a shame that the women are mostly “one-dimensional archetypes” – but in other respects, this is literary fiction as it should be: stylish and clever, while also a “page-turner”.