Blood Knots, by Luke Jennings

Simon Redfern
Sunday 18 April 2010 00:00 BST

On one level, this is a book about angling, as Luke Jennings chronicles his obsessive pursuit from an early age of wary trout, dour pike, elusive carp and just about every other species of freshwater fish swimming in England's ponds and streams.

His descriptions of the heart-thumping thrill of the chase – "The odds are almost overwhelmingly against you, and that is how you like it" – would be worth the price of admission alone, but around this theme he has woven other subtle strands: childhood innocence, paternal love, and his friendship with the charismatic, enigmatic Robert Nairac, who taught him fly-fishing and falconry before being killed by the IRA while working as an intelligence officer in Ireland.

The result is startlingly original, its mood switching from the joyful, "that billowing, wind-in-the-sails sense of freedom" he finds in fishing, to the darkly brooding, yet shot through with wit and humour. Above all it is beautifully written, its prose as luminous and sparkling as the chalk streams the author describes so lovingly. Easy to read, hard to forget.

Published in hardback by Atlantic, £16.99

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