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At the Chime of a City Clock

D.J. Taylor

6 Reviews

Rated 0

Fiction, Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)

A comedy-noir thriller from the author of Kept: A Victorian Mystery.

Summer 1931 in seedy Bayswater and James Ross is on his uppers. An aspiring writer whose stories nobody will buy ('It's the slump'), with a landlady harassing him for unpaid rent and occasional sleepless nights spent in the waiting room at King's Cross Station, he is reduced to selling carpet-cleaning lotion door-to-door. His prospects brighten when he meets the glamorous Suzi ('the red hair and the tight jumper weren't a false card: she really was a looker and no mistake'), but their relationship turns out to be a source of increasing bafflement. Who is her boss, the mysterious Mr Rasmussen - whose face bears a startling resemblance to one of the portraits in Police News - and why he so interested in the abandoned premises above the Cornhill jeweller's shop?

Worse, mysterious Mr Haversham from West End Central is starting to take an interest in his affairs. With a brief to keep an eye on Schmiegelow, James finds himself staying incognito at a grand Society weekend at a country house in Sussex, where the truth - about Suzi and her devious employer - comes as an unexpected shock. Set against a backdrop of the 1931 financial crisis and the abandonment of the Gold Standard, acted out in shabby bed-sitters and Lyons tea-shops, At the Chime of a City Clock is an authentic slice of Thirties comedy-noir.

Praise for Kept: A Victorian Mystery:

'Very entertaining and well done, with a sharp appreciation for the details' The Times

'An ingenious tale of madness, murder and deception.' The Guardian

'A stylish page-turner ... all done with humour and cunning.' Sunday Telegraph

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Praise for At the Chime of a City Clock

  • Steeped in historical detail, the novel evokes the sleazy side of the Thirties so vividly that you can almost feel the grease and grime on your fingers. - Mail on Sunday

  • Engaging, cheerful, opportunist James Ross. You won't forget him or the London he frequents for a long time after closing the book. - Literary Review

  • Highly entertaining ... his most accomplished [novel] yet ... highly intriguing and well-researched mystery.

  • Unique and extremely well read. - The Lady

  • Summons the spirit of Patrick Hamilton and George Orwell. - Eastern Daily Press

  • Finely drawn...artful...masterly.

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D.J. Taylor

D.J. Taylor's novels include English Settlement (1996), which won a Grinzane Cavour Prize, Trespass (1998) and Derby Day (2011), both long-listed for the Man Booker Prize, Kept: A Victorian Mystery (2006), a Publishers Weekly book of the year, and The Windsor Faction (2013), joint winner of the Sidewise Award for Alternate History. He has also written several works of non-fiction, including Orwell: The Life, winner of the 2003 Whitbread Prize for Biography and, most recently, The Prose Factory: Literary Life in England Since 1918 (2016). He lives in Norwich with his wife, the novelist Rachel Hore, and their three sons.

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