Francis King

Trade Secrets

Skin Lane


Serpent’s Tail 352pp £10.99 order from our bookshop

The most extraordinary aspect of this extraordinary novel is the vividness with which its author evokes a small, secret pocket, long since demolished, of the City of London as it used to be during the hot summer of 1967. Skin Lane, which provides the book with its vaguely sinister title, is a fictional street that, like the real-life Skinners Lane, is a turning off Garlick Hill. At the time of the story, it is the heart of the fur trade, the employers and proprietors of which are predominantly Jewish. Now, when it often requires courage or defiance to wear a fur coat, these establishments have vanished, either closed down or, in a few cases, moved to places with less ancient histories and lower rents.

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