The Girl on the Landing, By Paul Torday

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The Independent Culture

What a curious novel this is. It begins like some ITV tea-time drama in a retro-styled Britain of crusty gents' clubs and Perthshire shooting estates, ostensibly set in the present but closer in cosy mood to Christie-land. Then dull-dog laird Michael, who tells the tale alternately with the anodyne woman who somehow married him, undergoes a psychiatric crisis that involves reversion to the "atavistic brain".

Visions of ancient-British hunter-gatherers and pharmaceutical skullduggery precede a hunt through moor and glen for a man libidinously released from his "bleak half-world" of anti-psychotic medication. It's another Scottish doppelganger tale, in fact. You bargain for John Buchan; you get a dive into delirium closer to Irvine Welsh. Weird.

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