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Greg Gamble: he’s a teacher, he works hard, he’s a husband, a father. He’s a good man, or tries to be. But even a good man can face a crisis. Even a good man can face temptation. Even a good man can find himself faced with difficult choices.
Greg Gamble: he thinks he can keep his head in the game. He thinks he’s trying to be good. Until he realises everyone is flawed.
And for Gamble, trying to be good just isn’t enough.
‘You’ll say, after you’ve read it, that you had no sympathy for him at all, for any of them, perhaps, and were not complicit in any way, but you’ll be lying, of course. And it’s that sense of complicity, of being pulled into the intense, claustrophobic disintegration of this selfish man, and the people around him, that makes reading this novel such a vivid experience. I found Greg Gamble’s thoughts sticking to my own like towpath mud. With sensual, nuanced detail Kerry Hadley-Pryce creates an unrelenting portrait of a man’s dissolution into the dark waters of the Stourbridge Canal. Gamble’s unnerving syntax of justification and exoneration – reminiscent in style of Antonio Tabucchi’s Pereira Maintains or Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist – builds on the Black Country edgeland noir of her first novel, with painful psychological honesty and bite.’ —Anthony Cartwright
‘A stunning read.’ —Blue Book Balloon
‘Some readers may sympathise with Greg in his loveless marriage, with the child that was a mistake, with the threat of bad news hanging over him and a longing to be free of his domestic shackles. Others might really dislike him. I did. However, I was compelled to read to the end to find out exactly what he’d had done, and it’s because of the quality of writing. Read it yourself and see.’ —Nudge
‘A quietly chilling depiction of what lies just below the surface of an outwardly ordinary and respectable family. A desolate yet riveting read.’ —Neverimitate
‘This is an addictive book that deserves to be up there with the likes of Gone Girl and Girl On The Train it's as good, if not better, than both. A dark and unsettling read that leaves you feeling like a voyeur of a car crash relationship (where you wouldn't look away even if you could), I really enjoyed it – 9/10 stars’ —Andrew Angel, Ebookwyrm's Book Reviews
‘A couple whose uneasy relationship seems as unreliable as that in Gone Girl are driving home, a little the worse for drink, when they accidentally knock someone over, someone they know – but they choose to drive quickly on. The story, and their relationship, becomes increasingly bizarre ...’ —CrimeTime
‘The Black Country is a macabre triumph, whether you read it as a horror fable about love or a meditation on the controlling character of the artist. Either way, this ambitious and memorable first novel loiters like a rotting fish left behind the fridge. I mean this in a good way. The Black Country really is something else.’ —James Kidd, The Independent on Sunday
‘Every so often a novel lands from out of nowhere and grabs you by the eyeballs. Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl was one such, but at least Flynn had some previous form. Kerry Hadley-Pryce's haunting and unnerving The Black Country is a debut of gothic ambition. The cover hints at David Lynch, and this twisted portrait of a marriage in continual breakdown, of distrust, paranoia and love turned to contempt is a little as though Gone Girl had been reimagined by Lynch.’ —James Kidd, South China Morning Post
‘The Black Country is an excellent book, written in an astonishing voice by a very good writer, and deserves a wide audience.’ —Graeme Shimmin