Somebody using the phrase “powerful debut novel” usually makes my eyes glaze over, but this rave about James Scott’s first novel has me intrigued instead. Sure, it’s mostly just the Coen-brothers-esque violence and weird details like “various forms of death by ice.” I’m a sucker for a frontier story that actually makes the frontier sound as awful as it must have truly been.
My first thought, upon seeing the headline of this review, was: who has the balls to use Nicholas Shakespeare as their byline? Even if that’s your real name, the best anybody’s ever going to think about your work is, “Second-best Shakespeare I’ve read.” Anyway, this is a memoir about the guy’s aunt, who was evidently a notable operative in WWII, and it seems decently entertaining (it does warrant the sentence: “Only on their honeymoon … did Priscilla discover he was impotent.”). Still, I bet it’s no Richard III.