James Morrison

A Menace In Their Midst

The People’s Act of Love


Canongate 391pp £12.99 order from our bookshop

Prizewinning journalist James Meek’s latest novel is a layered, often deeply macabre book that combines the epic sweep of a Russian classic with the psychological precision of the keenest suspense thriller.

Set in the icy wastes of Siberia, two years on from the October revolution, The People’s Act of Love explores the tensions of an isolated limbo world in which two curious communities subsist in uneasy proximity. One is a bizarre Christian sect led by a Tsarist deserter, Balashov, who has castrated himself and his followers in the belief that, by throwing away ‘the Devil’s keys’, he is turning them into angels. The other is a ragtag band of war-weary Czech soldiers, whose despotic commander, Matula, has buried an order to return his troops home in the hope of establishing dominion over this remote and barren refuge.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'The characters in many of these stories are trapped in the obsessive present tense of their own thoughts; in the m… ,
    • 'Libraries, for much of their existence, have embodied in microcosm many of the characteristics of the totalitarian… ,
    • 'Moss and Cynthia buy several properties through which to launder their ill-gotten gains, take lots of drugs, have… ,
    • 'Never mind the imperial cult. This is the cult of Boris. What happened to Rome?' From the LR archive:… ,
    • Thirty-two years ago this month, we published Muriel Spark's short story, 'A Playhouse Called Remarkable' Read it… ,
    • Time travel, bicycles and white horses populate @WomackPhilip's roundup of children's books by @marcussedgwick,… ,
    • RT : Joanna Kavenna’s ‘Cooking with Trotsky’s Frying Pan’ in June’s is the most well written and interesting… ,