Mr Churchill's Driver: A Murderer's Story by Colin Farrington

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Mr Churchill's Driver: A Murderer's Story by Colin Farrington

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Category: Crime
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Ani Johnson
Reviewed by Ani Johnson
Summary: A fictional murderer narrating his search into his family's past becomes an exploration into his psyche. Feel the hairs on your neck rise as the subtle aura of menace heightens!
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 256 Date: November 2016
Publisher: Matador
ISBN: 978-1785893643

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2014: 50 years since William Gilbey's father Herbert was hanged for murder. This anniversary is different from those in the past in that it's given William the impetus to go and find out more about two mystifying parts of his father's history. Firstly the oddity of the murder: why randomly kill two women in the street in daylight? Secondly, when William was a child, Herbert had told him a story about a meeting between Winston Churchill and then Irish Teasoch Eamon De Valera during World War II. There's nothing in the history books so did this actually happen? This is definitely a good time to investigate, especially as William has just been released from prison after serving a sentence for murder himself.

Colin Farrington's been slightly devious here. Once we become enveloped we discover that it has little to do with Winston Churchill at all. It's about an adult son investigating a not exactly normal father's past, but then the son isn't that average either.

Both of the Gilbeys have lived lives embroiled in crime and both have something else in common: the Uncles. These ever lurking presences are William's guiding lights in his nefarious world, demanding total loyalty for their services right down to William going to prison for a murder he didn't commit in order to satisfy them and protect someone else.

This may give us the impression that William is an easily led, innocent soul for a man in his 60s but surprises await. The more we become acquainted with our narrator, the greater sense of disquiet he generates. As a comparison regarding subtle menace, think Richard Attenborough's Christie in the 1971 film 10 Rillington Place and you'll understand why, at times, neck hairs are going to rise.

There are more surprises during the search for the truth and the recurring hook of 'saggermore', a mysterious word associated with Herbert. Yet in this slow burning, low key psychological thriller we keep being drawn back to the gentle tones of William and wonder what he'll do as much as, if not more than, what he'll uncover.

Where someone as egocentric as William is concerned, this would please him. It's also a good reason why other people he comes across aren't fleshed out. This is our access into William's world, guided and totally controlled by William. Generally other people are just there for him to utilise or ignore, his everyday tone in very non-everyday situations adding to that sinister feeling.

This isn't a story for those who like their thrillers accompanied by car chases and regular action-packed interludes. In fact in a couple of places it may be a little overly slow for many and yet when it comes to someone as compelling as William Gilbey it's very hard to look away.

(Thank you to the good folk at Matador for providing us with a copy for review.)

Further Reading: If this appeals and you like a sinister character to shiver to, we also recommend A Pleasure and a Calling by Phil Hogan.

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