In Review

Novel of the week: London, Burning

Anthony Quinn’s new novel is a ‘deeply satisfactory read’

Over the past decade, Anthony Quinn has published a “richly pleasurable” series of novels “portraying London down the decades”, said Anthony Cummins in The Observer. Having previously progressed from the 1880s to the 1960s, the series now moves into the 1970s – a world of strikes, overflowing bins and IRA violence.

We follow four characters, whose lives are brought together by a series of accidents: Hannah, a “go-getting reporter”; Vicky, a newly promoted detective; Callum, an English lecturer from County Down; and Freddie, a priapic theatre director. Such is Quinn’s “flair for flesh-and-blood-characters”, any of these four could have carried the novel alone.

Also superb are the “bang to rights” period details, said Sue Gaisford in the FT. One character uses a phone box whose receiver has “the faint, moist warmth of recent use”’; people drink “stingers and old-fashioneds”. The plot, revolving around a series of car bombings, intrigues the reader “right up to the last page”. Written with “rare elegance” and “sinuous wit”, London, Burning is a “deeply satisfactory read”.

Little, Brown 352pp £14.99; The Week Bookshop £11.99

London Burning cover
The Week Bookshop

To order this title or any other book in print, visit theweekbookshop.co.uk, or speak to a bookseller on 020-3176 3835. Opening times: Monday to Saturday 9am-5.30pm and Sunday 10am-4pm.

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