The Singer's Gun, Paperback
5 out of 5 (1 rating)


From the New York Times bestselling author of Station Eleven. After shaking off an increasingly dangerous venture with his cousin, Anton Waker has spent years constructing an honest life for himself.

But then a routine security check brings his past crashing back towards him.

His marriage and career in ruins, Anton finds himself in Italy with one last job from his cousin.

But there is someone on his tail and they are getting closer...The Singer's Gun follows Anton, Alex Broden - a detective on the trail of a people trafficker, and Elena, caught up in the investigation against her will.

Taut and thrilling, it is a novel about identity and loyalty, and the things we are willing to sacrifice for love.




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Yet another clear winner from Emily St. John Mandel. In fewer than three hundred pages she manages to weave a complex tapestry that ranges from New York, the remote Arctic reaches of Canada and the Italian island of Ischia and encompasses themes of love, loss, fidelity, forged documents, trafficking and murder, with disenchantment, disenfranchisement and the war against terror thrown in for good measure. At times this book reminded me of William Gibson's haunting 'Spook Country', though it also recalled Jonathan Raban's marvellous 'Waxwings'. It manages, however, to eclipse both of those accomplished works.Anton Waker grew up knowing that his family's architectural salvage business frequently strayed into nefarious territory, selling goods of dubious provenance. While this troubled him, it didn't bother his cousin Aria who came to live with the Wakers. She took inspiration from her aunt's and uncle's flexible sense of enterprise and, from an early age, developed her own line of business, in which Anton gradually collaborated. However, as the novel opens, he is primarily concerned with the state of his relationship with his fiancée Sophie, who has already cancelled (or at least postponed) their wedding twice. When they do eventually make it down the aisle, they go to Ischia for their honeymoon, where, after a couple of days, Anton delivers his own bombshell, telling Sophie (without any prior hint of such an idea) that he wants to stay on in Ischia for a couple of weeks, with a view toi writing a book. Sophie is unimpressed and departs back to mainland Italy, and thence to New York, almost without a word.We are then given an insight into Anton's life in the weeks immediately preceding the wedding. Having striven to pull himself out of the criminal subculture into which his family had been driving him, he had been working as a consultant for a water provision company. Things had, however, started to go awry, and he found himself reassigned to a different office, with alarming consequences. Meanwhile, his secretary Elena, a Canadian from a small settlement well into the tundra wastes of the Arctic Circle, has begun behaving oddly.The story unfolds in a series of episodes, moving backwards and forwards in time, and shifting focus. Such an approach can, of course, be confusing or distracting, but Mandel handles it brilliantly, and the shifting timeline and perspective serve to illuminate rather than confuse the flow of the story. She also has an extraordinary ability to create characters who are immensely believable and who remain essentially sympathetic even when their behaviour is far from exemplary.Another exhilarating facet of the book is Mandel's mastery of a complex and interlaced plot, and P. G. Wodehouse would have been proud to have conceived and delivered such an intricate but beautifully resolved plot.

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