The Pretender by David Belbin (Five Leaves Publications)

by Patrick O'Connor


IF you fancy your hand at creative writing, this book could be just for you.

A blurb on the jacket describes it as a 'literary thriller' and the author runs an MA course in Creative Writing at Nottingham Trent University so should have plenty of first hand knowledge of the world of books.

The plot follows the adventures of teenager book-worm Mark Trace who has a peculiar skill – he's an expert at literary forgery, especially when it comes to the likes of Hemingway and Graham Greene.

A gap year in Paris sees him get down to some serious 're-writing' and he encounters an American dealer in manuscripts and his attractive female companion.

Then the action switches to the dusty, antiquated premises of a literary magazine in London's Soho where Mark learns to put his 'craft' to good use.

It is fair to say that there are few, if any, genuine 'thrillers' in The Pretender but the narrative ambles along at a pleasant pace and Trace is an agreeable companion.

Belbin leads us expertly through the literary world where it seems that the margin between penniless obscurity and best-selling cash-cow could be very thin.