This Is How, By M.J. Hyland

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The Independent Culture

Patrick Oxtoby, the 23-year old narrator of Hyland's third novel is a bright but tortured young man. Recently ditched by his fiancee, this quiet car mechanic decides to start over in boarding house by the sea. It might be the 1960s, but creature comforts are in short supply, and Patrick shares his new accommodation with two other callow youths – would-be boon companions, if only he knew how to make friends.

Patrick is aware of his limited emotional range, a frustration which only the reader recognises as dangerous. When eventually his life spills over into violence we're not surprised. Hyland creates a distinctive and claustrophobic landscape which both charms and chills. A novel about a crime, but with a strange kind of criminal at its heart.