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Thrilling first novel by award-winning poet

When a teenage couple are found murdered in their car, a boy called Adam Sligo is the only suspect. A manhunt begins. The letter A is found blazoned on the wall at the murder scene and is soon followed, around town, by the other letters of the alphabet, each immaculately painted in red. What do the letters mean? Is Sligo playing games with the police? Or putting a spell on the town?

Perry Scholes is mixed up in all this from the start: a man haunted by cars and death - and photographic images of both. He trawls the motorways and edgelands listening to police radio, getting to the car-crash or the crime scene before them. He makes a living selling these shots to the papers. He is the one who spots the painted letters, and begins to document their appearances.

As the town is paralysed by fear and paranoia, a vigilante cult emerges, arming itself for the battle against evil. Perry finds himself trapped in a nightmare. A killer is at large, and the alphabetical messages he leaves seem to be personal messages for him.

Reviews

His corpse-strewn first novel derives its title from St Patrick's habit of inscribing letters on new territory to transform it...the atmosphere of creeping menace kept this heathen reading, simultaneously irked and intrigued

Mark Sanderson, Daily Telegraph

Crafty, sad and haunting

Literary Review

The narrative voice turns it from a dark whodunit into something more intriguing. But Roberts never forgets that his principal responsibility is to keep us hooked - and that he does with aplomb

Barry Forshaw, Daily Express

Suitably disturbing and unsettling, and lingers long in the mind

Daily Mail

Reminded me at different times of Camus's The Plague, Kafka's The Castle... a disturbing and intense piece of fiction

Peter Guttridge, Observer

Stylistically accomplished

John Dugdale, Sunday Times

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Formats & editions

  • EBook

    9781409000174

    July 1, 2010

    Vintage Digital

    240 pages

    Online retailers

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  • Paperback

    9780099483786

    March 15, 2007

    Vintage

    240 pages

    RRP $26.99

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Also by Michael Symmons Roberts