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Maxwell’s Demon by Steven Hall – a postmodern mystery

The long-awaited follow-up to The Raw Shark Texts falls into some plot holes, but remains ingenious fun

Thomas Quinn, the protagonist of Maxwell’s Demon, is a novelist who has failed both artistically and commercially; he is also the son of a great and famous writer, now dead. As the book opens, we find Thomas still haunted by his estrangement from his father – but even more so by another writer, the enigmatic genius Andrew Black, who was his father’s protege. Black’s only book, Cupid’s Engine, was a masterpiece and an industry-changing bestseller. Years ago, Black vanished after refusing to fulfil a publishing contract because his publisher would not agree to his demand that they never publish any ebooks again. The existence of ebooks, according to Black, is going to bring about the apocalypse.

Then Thomas receives a letter from Black that consists of a single line – What do you think this is? – with a photograph of a mysterious black sphere. Despite a warning from the agent he shares with Black (“He will walk you right over a cliff,” she says), Thomas sets out to find him and solve the mystery. Soon characters from novels are showing up in real life and entire towns are turning out to be fictional constructs. By the time Thomas is finished, everything he thinks he knows about the world will be shattered.

Continue reading...


Barn 8 by Deb Olin Unferth review – the great chicken heist

An enthralling caper about a plucky band of activists with a crazy plan to free 900,000 battery hens...

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