Black Cat

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9780140272895: Black Cat

Chloe Fortune has been anti-roads, anti-capitalist, anti-everything for so long. Now she wants to be pro-something. Perhaps hooking up with Ethan in his search for the black beast rumoured to be at large will give Chloe the goal that she needs. Or maybe her motivation is Ethan, geographically and mentally on the margins of society in his caravan on the moors, but self-contained and certain in his quest. For Chloe, with her wild dreadlocks, doesn't fit in herself. And when Ethan discovers that she is a dowser, her acute sixth sense allowing her to locate anything she sets her mind on, they seem made for each other. But as they hunt their quarry, they close in on other truths: about themselves, about each other and about obsession itself.

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Review:

"How do you know what any man is capable of?": in his new thriller, Black Cat, Martyn Bedford's takes that question into the realms of contemporary (urban) myth. The rumour of a black panther, stalking its prey on the moors, is the starting point for a curious relationship between Chloe Fortune--a wild child who doesn't "fit in", a dowsing anti-roads protestor whose transatlantic telephone calls with "mom" are one of the highlights of the novel--and the mysterious Ethan, one-time local housing officer turned hermit-hunter. Told from multiple perspectives--speeches and interviews from a variety of "witnesses" who reflect back on whatever it is that has happened between Chloe and Ethan on the moors-- Black Cat sustains a genuine sense of mystery and threat (one that it does not necessarily resolve).

Like the critically-acclaimed The Houdini Girl, this novel is clever--knowing in its depiction of lives lived on the edges of respectability and impressive in its rendering of a range of different voices and characters. Independent, wayward, unpredictable, Chloe's emerges as the dominant, and engaging, voice--as is clear from the very beginning of the novel in her exchange with an unsavoury reporter: "Gavin: 'How did you learn to dowse?' Chloe: 'Because no-one ever told me I couldn't.'" In this sense, the violence that unfolds towards the end of the book comes as a shock that is crucial to the suspense, and success, of this whimsical tale. Vicky Lebeau

About the Author:

Martyn Bedford was brought up in London, but now lives in Yorkshire. He worked as a journalist for a number of years but gave up to write full-time with the success of his first novel, Acts Of Revision, which won the Yorkshire Post Best First Novel Award. He has published two other novels, Exit, Orange and Red and, most recently, Houdini Girl.

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