I am stripped of everything and undone. A friend of mine dismantles them up by the Arctic Circle. And she did just that, fixing me with an intensity that was unconvincing. Thank you, she said leaving me with silence and the walk in front of me, down streets which an unusually clear sky made good. How well had I known her? They will come but not tonight. She knelt by him and undid the top button of his shirt. He will ship them to any part of the world.
People seldom tell everything at once, even if they are innocent. In my mouth the slimy substance of fear. The start of an obsession. Such fear I have for you, I would not have thought in me. His mistress Anita who may be a liar, comes to Gabriel who runs the Bureau, a detective agency for help. While he kindly creased his face into something intended as more than a greeting to those who knew him; a finer piece of recognition that he probably knew was likely to be wasted. Hands trembling and fingertips meeting round the rim.
You have never seen him? The stacked chairs in front of the second-hand furniture shop became a fine construction and the line of unimaginative terraced houses seemed to have received a nudge towards a higher sky. More confusion--I stopped reading at page 137--I had enough. I had heard it too often. The debris of my life. The information is released to you in tiny snippets as we progress short paragraphs predominate throughout the book. In fact, there is shape here, and structure, and although we know what is going to happen to Max, we don't know what will happen to Rachel and Mo.
I said putting my arms round her, but she pushed me away angrily. He will ship them to any part of the world. She wanted to show me a list she had made of all the things that she had done on the day he was killed. I never knew I was so afraid. She brushed a fly from his face, all livid and long dead. A gripping read, with an edginess so often hard to find in a debut novel.
Having previously worked for Soviet intelligence, Gabriel has used his contacts to set up his own detective agency and when an acquaintance from the past seeks his help he finds himself unable to say no. It was that tone that voices have, that flat tone, when people have lost whatever it is that enables one to stand up and make sense of things. Whoever Haugaard really is, she writes with great wit, flair and invention. Her face almost unaffected — a bit strained, a bit drawn. Like a photographer I had captured that moment and I treasured it. I need to pee and I feel better for that. No, I seriously replied, we had not.
A seemingly cold and unfeeling novel, which perhaps isn't a million miles away from the life of a private investigator. Likewise, there are a few gems in the storyline that throw up a great deal of mystery and intrigue. The prose is fluid and poetic. She kept stroking his hand. He lay by the armchair, on his side, legs bent; a position of pain sustained and his jumper, camel brown, darkly stained. Gabriel's old Russian spy boss Oleg is killed. I waited with her for the police and the doctor who I think came.
As I made love to my wife that night, I felt as if I were making love to her, and that we had done it many times before. A large desk, a computer, and, on the wall, the emblem of my office immodestly displayed. With quick movements she changed opening drawers that were surprisingly neat in that flat. Finally I sit down with that trash called memory trying to resurrect the bits that matter, the bits that are relevant to this story which began with a telephone call. This is the story of an obsession.
Nicholas Royle's anthology '68: New Stories from Children of the Revolution' will be published by Salt on 7 April Dedalus, £8. He did business deals which would not bear scrutiny, so he had tried to conceal them, but they had surfaced from time to time in the shape of letters and telephones calls. They write a novel and, although Rachel does most of the work, the book appears with Tina's name on the cover, and is a bestseller. I wanted her to ramble on about their love and her ignorance while I saw her as I wanted to see her. There was plenty of betrayal. She kept holding his hand and stroking it. This playfulness makes us question everything, including the identity of the narrator — even, perhaps, the identity of the author.
Was she disingenuous or was it shock? But I had to say something and so I tried to unravel what had happened. I seemed to remember her then, her shyness recalled and my own feelings for her, but that more dimly. But then she came to see me. She took his hand and began to rub it gently. The consequences are immense as he investigates the seedy London underworld of art dealings where he learns power is money and death is inevitable when art changes dirty hands.