The Slowworm’s Song by Andrew Miller - review by Ethan Croft

Ethan Croft

Don’t Look Back in Anger

The Slowworm’s Song


Sceptre 288pp £18.99

Brace for a sentence unlikely to be repeated in the annals of literary journalism: over this novel hangs the shadow of Johnny Mercer, MP. The backbencher, a former minister and army officer, has in recent years carved out a reputation for cheerleading on behalf of long-retired British soldiers facing trial for their actions during Operation Banner, the British military’s four-decade-long deployment in Northern Ireland. Last year he used his Twitter feed to post a selfie with Dennis Hutchings, a former squaddie. The two were onboard a plane heading to Belfast, where Hutchings was facing trial for the murder in 1974 of a fleeing Catholic man with the mental age of a ten-year-old (a charge Hutchings denied before he died while the trial was ongoing). Mercer was travelling to Belfast to rally support for Hutchings, as he has done for other ex-servicemen accused of historical crimes in the province.

Mercer is the latest representative of a long tradition of armed-forces-at-any-cost Conservatives. These get a mention only a few pages into Andrew Miller’s new novel: ‘someone in Parliament, a Tory MP, worked out how many Apache attack helicopters you could buy with the millions spent on the inquiry’ into

Sign Up to our newsletter

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

RLF - March

A Mirror - Westend

Follow Literary Review on Twitter