Thursday, April 5, 2012

King Death. Toby Litt

From the author who can't resist publishing in alphabetical order, comes his "K" title - King Death. Toby Litt is an English contemporary novelist and has tackled differing genres ranging from chick-lit, science fiction to crime. King Death, as you would suppose from the title is the latest edition to his Crime collection.

"Kumiko saw it first - a heart, a human heart, glimpsed from a moving train. Someone must have thrown it out from a carriage up front. Kumiko is determined to find out who - and why.

But skelton saw the heart too, and when Kumiko leaves him, to pursue her investigations, he sets out on his own trail of discovery.

Darting between dingy student pubs, the roofs of Borough Market and the corridors and basements of Guy's hospital, both find themselves drawn closer and closer to the hospital's infamous dissection lecturer - known behind his back as 'King Death'.

King Death is a story of self discovery, love and an action packed “who-dunnit”. It's an amateur detective novel, with both of the main characters coming up against the police and both being dismissed as "crazy or paranoid".

It is written with swapping narrators, Chapter in chapter out, each telling the story flowing from their own eyes. The narrators are a young couple, Kumiko – a Japanese performance artist and Skelton and aspiring session musician.

Set in a modern London with a distinctive gothic overlay, the book weaves its way through the city.

Litt creates a magical world of improbability and serendipity, the way both Skelton and Kumiko enter the world as detectives both with different motives.

In a sense the heart being thrown out the window parallels the relationship between Kumiko and Skelton, as it's on that train ride before the incident that Kumiko decides to end the relationship. In her own search then to find truth and meaning for her own life, Skelton is following this dissected human heart in the hope to re-gain Kumiko's.

It's a touching love story, an action packed crime novel and so long as you can wrap your head around the swapping chapter style, an easy read.

Reviewed by Hannah.

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