Christmas 2015: The top 10 debut fiction books, The Independent
Maddie and Harry: she’s an estate agent, he’s a teacher. They’ll say they live in the Black Country. They’ll say how they met Jonathan Cotard, explain how they later argued, had a car accident, thought they’d killed someone. Thought they had. And as they search for a truth, they’ll tell us their secrets, their mistakes. And we’ll judge them. We'll judge Harry's fling with a schoolgirl and Maddie's previous life. We'll judge the nature of love and violence, good and evil. The Black Country. For Maddie and Harry, it’s darker than it should be.
‘Begs to be read in one go, tugging the reader onwards through its intense and strangely intimate world.’ —Alison Moore
‘Obliquely yet menacingly told, increasingly horrific, and full of humour as dark as its title.’ —M John Harrison
‘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
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Synopsis1985, Edinburgh. Thatcher’s policies are biting deep – fat cats and street-kids, lovers, losers and the rest struggle to survive. Hume sets up a business catering for the rich and...