A late-night gambling session ends in a bet for Richard Gaunt: can he walk to Oxford by lunchtime the next day? Gaunt sets off, and as morning breaks and the dreaming spires near, his evening's winnings look set to double. But when men in a Jeep reverse into him, scooping him off the roadside, Gaunt enters a yet stranger world.
Taken to a country house, he is kept hostage by a man with impeccable manners, Mr Khan. Traumatised by a tour of duty in Iraq, Gaunt's life has collapsed around him. His behaviour drove away his childhood sweetheart and put even debt-collecting jobs beyond his reach. So when the mysterious captor offers Gaunt 10,000 pounds to marry Adeena - a beautiful girl kept in the house against her will - he decides to accept. After initial suspicion, Adeena realises that Gaunt is her only chance, and the pair forge a plan of escape.
©2011 Paul Thoday (P)2011 Orion Publishing Group Limited
I won't give it away, but this book is not about what you think it's about. Both the title and the playing-card symbols used on the artwork seem to be part of the misdirection.
Furthermore, it's told like a comedy, but turns out to be thought-provoking and disturbing. That dichotomy is one of the things I liked about the book, yet at the end of the day, it feels misleading.
Jonathan Keeble is one of my favorite readers, and this is another fine example of his work.
"Well written, well read"
Paul Torday is a very good writer. His prose flows without ever drawing attention to itself. All his stories are quite different, though a persistent theme may be the difficulty of certain men in quite fitting into social expectations - they may have just the tiniest touch of Asberger's.
Anyway, this is a story which carries you along and while plainly fiction it is believable enough that you want to keep listening.
The reading by Jonathan Keeble is excellent. All the voices are good.
I'm going to get some more Torday audiobooks.
I was completely hooked on this one from the first moment. Ex army officer with psychological problems from what he's seen in Aghanistan and Iraq that aren't being properly addressed and how he copes with, amongst other things, losing his fiancee and being kidnapped. I was, however, disappointed at the ending but that's a trivial point - it was a great read!!
"Great modern-day 39 steps"
Really enjoyed this book. It reminded me a bit of 'The 39 steps' but a bit more ruthless. Great narrator too.
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