Over the course of The Tell-Tale Heart, we watch as Patrick, an unhealthy fifty-year-old academic, changes from a grubbily sensuous, selfish egotist to someone chastened and purified, much to the surprise of his children and ex-partners. What’s got into him? A new heart, figuratively as well as literally; Dawson leaves no metaphor unturned in this searching and gently philosophical novel poised on the edge of the darkness that surrounds a human life.
Although Patrick is not particularly pleasant, his thoughts, as he lies in a Cambridgeshire hospital, are amusing to overhear. He has been a compulsive womaniser all his life; we register his disgruntlement that the transplant coordinator Maureen is so unprepossessing: ‘She has the hair texture of a Jack Russell terrier