Who? Leo Perutz, Austrian novelist and mathematician, somewhat the plain Jane.
What? A classic Central European revenge novel, hopping round the continent looking for some bloke what did him wrong. Fleming liked it anyway.
When? Written in the 1920s, long-neglected, resurrected with snazzy cover just last year.
How? A slow and at times trying meander punctuated by moments of cold tension.
Why? It is hard to know whether I found Perutz’s prose dry because it is written in such a concise, direct manner, or because I read the bulk of it whilst fighting a horrific, vomitous hangover during a plane ride back from Portugal. I did not vomit, and the Perutz was there to distract, but a better remedy could have been found. Perutz’s patter, though revenge-driven and full of historical detailing, was not gripping enough to justify the tension he attempted to create. It was only by sheer willpower and the comforting proximity of the Boeing loo-box that I was able to hold my stomach in at all; it is difficult to attribute any gratitude to Mr. Perutz. A harsh criticism, but fair.
Little Apple is available as a Pushkin Vertigo paperback.
25 June 2017