Worst book I’ve read in some time? ‘The Man Who Risked His Partner’ – by Reed Stephens. Or should I say, Stephen Donaldson. Bizarrely reissued under his real name, this is a mid-eighties crime genre outing for the bloke who wrote the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. There was a time in British libraries when there were only two works of fantasy you could get. Lord Of The Rings, and Donaldson’s two Covenant trilogies. Like a bloated misanthropic version of Narnia, the only thing I remember about Covenant was leprosy and some bobbins about white gold. I have also read his Gap series of space operas which are astounding for adding a touch of good old fashioned misogyny to the previous mix, and being obsessed with sado-masochism to a remarkable degree.

I don’t remember much of either runs of books, except that they were immense tomes which were nevertheless easy to read. The Man Who Risked His Partner (written in 1984) is much shorter, and much harder going. If only because it revels in sentences like this on every other page:
‘I took it up with Ginny, who looked like a whiskey bottle with the bottom broken out of it, ready to slash in any direction.’
Yes kids, that’s right, its hopeless first person sub-Chandler dialogue. Yippee.

I won’t bother you with the plot, the book doesn’t. Instead we have alcoholic PI (original) Mick ‘Brew’ Axbrewder, junior partner of Ginny Fistoulari. They have a mutual loathing which does not quite square with the living, working, sleeping together scenario painted at the same time. Oh, Ginny got her fist blown some time in the past, making herself glad that she wasn’t named Ginny Fannyolari one might imagine. So hero is constantly tempted to the bottle, heroine broods about her stump. Mix this up with 280 wasted pages trying to find out who is trying to kill an accountant and you have a tedious, cliched read indeed. Just take my word for it, avoid this – and its equally flaccidly titled predecessor ‘The Man Who Killed His Brother’. People have pen names for a reason I guess.