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What to expect

‘A riotously good novel, witty and earnest, brimming with sharply drawn characters and creeping suspense. David Thewlis is a fabulous writer’

Celebrated director Jack Drake can’t get through his latest film (his most personal yet) without his wife Martha’s support. The only problem is, she’s dead…

When Jack sees Betty Dean – actress, mother, trainwreck – playing the part of a crazed nun on stage in an indie production of The Devils, he is struck dumb by her resemblance to Martha. Desperate to find a way to complete his masterpiece, he hires her to go and stay in his house in France and resuscitate Martha in the role of ‘loving spouse’.

But as Betty spends her days roaming the large, sunlit rooms of Jack’s mansion – filled to the brim with odd treasures and the occasional crucifix – and her evenings playing the part of Martha over scripted video calls with Jack, she finds her method acting taking her to increasingly dark places. And as Martha comes back to life, she carries with her the truth about her suicide – and the secret she guarded until the end.

Critics Review

  • This theatrical thriller by actor David Thewlis is darkly comic, beautifully written and full of surprises.

  • A riotously good novel, witty and earnest, brimming with sharply drawn characters and creeping suspense. David Thewlis is a fabulous writer.

    Anna Bailey, Sunday Times bestselling author of TALL BONES
  • Really funny. David is a great writer.

    Paula Hawkins, Good Housekeeping
  • A deliciously smart, hilarious human drama with the pace and intrigue of a gripping thriller. One of the year’s most memorable novels.

    B P Walter, author of the Sunday Times bestseller THE DINNER GUEST
  • A thriller that Hitchcock fans will love.

    ‘Thewlis has taken the turn-of-the-millennium London art scene and eviscerated it and the resulting gore makes for wonderful entertainment… This is a funny and successful satire of the contemporary art world, but at its core, it is a novel about the over-indulged and fragile artist’s ego, about insecurity, about the darker layers of human relationships… Hilarious and horror-filled’ Francesca Segal, Observer

    ‘Exquisitely written with a warm heart and a wry wit… Stunning’ Elle

    ‘A fine study in character disintegration and a very funny satire on the contemporary art world’ David Baddiel, The Times

    ‘A queasily entertaining carnival of art and self-destruction’ FT

    ‘Thewlis has a driving, spiky prose style and a way with blackly comic scenarios’ New Statesman

    ‘Thewlis has an eye for grotesque minutiae and, unsurprisingly for an esteemed actor, a real feel for dialogue and wordplay’ The List

    ‘Thewlis…has successfully transferred his talents to the page, displaying a sharp ear for dialogue and a scabrously satiric prose style’ Daily Mail

    ‘[Thewlis] great debut novel is a wry account of a spoilt middle-man’s collapse’ InStyle

    ‘This laugh-out-loud, darkly intelligent debut suggests that Thewlis might meet with considerable success should he decide to quit acting and take up the pen full-time… Readers who have mourned the end of Sue Townsend’s wonderful, long-running Adrian Mole series will find solace of a sort here, as will anyone who enjoys a thought-provoking skewering of modern art by a knowledgeable writer and an inescapably doomed but appealing hero’ Publishers Weekly

    ‘This is far more than an actor’s vanity project: Thewlis has talent’ Kirkus

    ‘David Thewlis has written an extraordinarily good novel, which is not only brilliant in its own right, but stands proudly beside his work as an actor, no mean boast’ Billy Connolly

    ‘I laughed and laughed until I read my own name amongst the carnage of Thewlis’s unfortunate characters. This book is a disgrace – it’s mean, cruel and refreshingly cynical’ Jake Chapman

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