Jonathan Barnes

Get Cathar

Lion Heart

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Bloomsbury 330pp £18.99 order from our bookshop

‘I have the feeling’, confides Richard Cathar, the hero and narrator of Justin Cartwright’s eccentric new novel, Lion Heart, ‘that I have strayed into genre fiction.’ His suspicion is correct. This long, diffuse, improbable narrative dallies with a series of popular forms that might strike some as unexpected choices for the distinguished, Booker-shortlisted author. The book moves from Dan Brownish conspiracy thriller to espionage drama, Francophile romance to social satire of the broadest type (a lecherous tutor named ‘Edgar Gaylard’; an uninspiring lawyer named ‘Derek Cocks’), never quite settling on any particular tone. It is nothing if not unpredictable.

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