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Friday 23 September 2022

‘A Tangled Tale’ by Dermod Judge.

Published by The Book Guild,
28 May 2022.

ISBN: 978-1-914471-74-2 (PB)

Pat Quinn is considering his magnum opus, and thinks it will be a thriller, featuring a central character with a snappy name – possibly Mr Tom Brown.  He meets a striking brunette in his block of flats. They exchange addresses and, in a subsequent conversation, he discovers that her grandfather is Whitey Sullivan, an infamous gangster, and she is looking for someone to write his memoirs.  He is interested and develops the idea of writing about the history of the gangs in the city and the idea is to disguise it as fiction, to ensure that the gang leaders are not bothered by legal repercussions. 

He meets Francesco, whose grandfather is Federico Consini, another gang leader and key enemy of Whitey.  They both feature in the subsequent weekly articles that Pat writes for publication in a local newspaper.  Pat develops the articles with the inclusion of Mr Tom Brown and Mitzi, the two main fictional characters.  The articles are immensely popular, and there is talk of a film.  But confusion is setting in, as Whitey and Federico are having trouble separating truth and fiction, as is the local police force.  And then Pat starts to have his own problems.

This is a lively, inventive novel, with elements of humour and frustration, and reminders of the violence of gang wars.  The descriptions of the two gang bosses are robust and their views of the past are well conveyed.  The comparison of the memories of those who took part in old events and the written description of events, the confusion of reality with fiction and the problems caused by slipping believable fictional characters into the mix, has consequences that cannot be predicted.  Pat’s journey from new author to successful writer is an interesting one, so much is promised, and the future looks bright, until unexpected events lead to an a surprising end.

Reviewer: Jo Hesslewood

Other Books by this author:  Clash, Two Jam Jars for the Manor, Bopping in Ballymalloy, MacBride’s Wars, A Healing Place. Lost on the Sea of Galilee

Dermod Judge has been a designer, typographer, copywriter, creative director at one of South Africa’s largest advertising agencies, dramatist, actor, broadcaster, international award-winning filmmaker, film and stage director, script writer and editor, and international lecturer on storytelling and filmmaking. Now he has written five books, published with the Book Guild, A Healing Place, which is non-fiction, and four novels; Clash, Two Jam Jars for the Manor, Bopping in Ballymalloy and MacBride’s Wars.

Jo Hesslewood.  Crime fiction has been my favourite reading material since as a teenager I first spotted Agatha Christie on the library bookshelves.  For twenty-five years the commute to and from London provided plenty of reading time.  I am fortunate to live in Cambridge, where my local crime fiction book club, Crimecrackers, meets at Heffers Bookshop .  I enjoy attending crime fiction events and currently organise events for the Margery Allingham Society.

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