Hawthorn & Child by Keith Ridgway - review by Sam Kitchener

Sam Kitchener

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Hawthorn & Child

By

Granta Books 288pp £12.99 order from our bookshop
 

A young City worker tells detectives that he has been shot by somebody in a vintage car; but the first person to find the victim remembers him describing the car as ‘ochre’:

– Ochre?

– Ochre.

– Are you sure?

– Yes.

Hawthorn looked at Child. He was grinning.

– Do you think he might have said old car?

– Old car?

– Old car.

The eponymous detectives in Keith Ridgway’s Hawthorn & Child spend much of the novel negotiating these tangles of language. Which ought to be discouraging. The banal poetry of that dialogue, with its mutating repetitions, seem old-fashioned – cod Beckett or, worse, Pinteresque: an antique example of a particular sort of

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