Results of the Costa Book Award in the year 2007.
Alfie Day, RAF airman and former World War II POW, never expected to survive the war. He may not have even wanted to—choosing to be a tail gunner—exposed, alone and watchful for his skipper and his crew through night after night of bombing missions. Now, five years after the end of the war and more alone than ever, Alfie finds himself drawn to unearth those intense, strangely passionate days by working as an extra on a POW film. What he will discover on the set about himself, his loves and the world around him will make the war itself look simple.
In November 2002, police constable Billy Tyler is summoned to the mortuary of a hospital in Suffolk. For the next twelve hours, from seven in the evening till seven in the morning, he is responsible for guarding the body of the notorious child-killer Myra Hindley. In the face of public hostility and media frenzy, Billy’s job, as his superior puts it, is to ‘make sure nothing happens’.
Billy’s approach is utterly professional, but as the night wears on, in the eerie silence of the hospital, the dead woman’s presence begins to assert itself, and Billy’s own problems and anxieties—a stalled career, a fractious marriage, a disabled daughter—gradually acquire a new and unexpected significance.
In the story of Lev, newly arrived in London from Eastern Europe, Rose Tremain has written a wise and witty book about the contemporary migrant experience.
On the coach, Lev chose a seat near the back and he sat huddled against the window, staring out at the land he was leaving…. Lev is on his way to Britain to seek work, so that he can send money back to Eastern Europe to support his mother and little daughter.
Readers will become totally involved with his story, as he struggles with the mysterious rituals of “Englishness,” and the fashions and fads of the London scene. We see the road Lev travels through Lev’s eyes, and we share his dilemmas: the intimacy of his friendships, old and new; his joys and sufferings; his aspirations and his hopes of finding his way home, wherever home may be.
At 47, Mr. F’s working life on London’s Skin Lane is one governed by calm, precision and routine. So when he starts to have frightening, recurring nightmares, he does his best to ignore them. The images that appear in his dream are disturbing—Mr. F can’t for the life of him think where they have come from. After all, he’s a perfectly ordinary middle-aged man.
As London’s crooked backstreets begin to swelter in the long, hot summer of 1967, Mr. F’s nightmare becomes an obsession. A chance encounter adds a face to the body that nightly haunts him, and the torments of his sweat-drenched nights lead him—and the reader—deeper into a terrifying labyrinth of rage, desire and shame.
Part fairy-tale, part compelling evocation of a now-lost London, Neil Bartlett’s long-awaited third novel is his fiercest piece of writing yet: cruel, erotic, and tender.