A few days before Christmas, in the severest winter Britain has experienced, six people converge on London’s Waterloo Station, bound for differing destinations on the Portsmouth line. Strangers to each other, they are to find themselves travelling in the same train, and sharing the same carriage. The mounting snowdrifts steadily engulf the train, bringing it to a halt between two rural stations, and here it remains, blizzard-struck. With light and heating gone, and the weather worsening, so the tension in the carriage grows…
With his customary highly visual narrative skill, Christopher Leach contrasts the savagery of ruthless natural forces with six people’s discovery of each other, and finally of themselves.
‘Christopher Leach has the true story-teller’s gift of being able to seize the attention in a vice-like grip tight at the beginning of his books.’ Book Choice
THE SEND OFF
On the day before the Jardine family are due to leave their suburban home for a long-awaited holiday in Spain, Mrs Jardine goes downstairs to start breakfast and sees ‘something wet seeping out from the kitchen into the hall’.
What that something is, and the source from which it comes, endangers the holiday, involves the family in deception and horror, sends them on a nightmare car-ride through the Southern Counties which culminates in an army ‘open-day’ at a military camp; and sends them home again to yet another fearful confrontation, until the following morning brings an end to their troubles. But is it and end…?
L.A.G. Strong, reviewing Christopher Leach’s first novel wrote: ‘Above argument is the quality of experience, the sensitiveness of perception , and the conviction of an insight that goes far beyond appearances.’ In THE SEND OFF these qualities are again in evidence, set out in a novel whose spare whittled-down prose so aptly echoes its chilly theme.
Christopher Leach’s THE SEND OFF was the winner of the 1974 PEN award.
‘…extremely black and rather funny novel… The ending is neat, both funny and nasty.’ Russell Davies
When Lucius Rumsey, a small-time preacher, arrives in the hot dusty town of Blair, Texas, his main concern is to find someone to make him a cross to carry on his evangelical coast-to-coast crusade. But Blair is no ordinary town, for two brutal murders have recently taken place there. Its inhabitants – shocked and terrified – exist in a state of suspense: what if the killer should strike again? But when Rumsey meets the local carpenter, Stewart Bright, the nightmare is only just beginning.
Christopher Leach’s brilliant imagery and compulsive story are sustained throughout a sequence of events that builds up to a shattering climax.
‘One of the sure signs of a really good book is that while you are reading it, you forget you are doing so… The written word is still the most powerful tool for telling a story and Christopher Leach certainly knows how to make it work.’ The Literary Review
‘one could wish that most thriller writers had half Mr Leach’s talent.’ Spectator
THE BLACK UNICORNS
When Clancy Emmers is ejected from a retreat in Arizona, he meets Jefferson Prile, a black man just out of prison, his white girlfriend May and another ex-con, Stanford Talbot, and he hitches a ride with them across the Southern states to his home town in Georgia. He is not to know that this is the beginning of a journey in which he must confront issues, emotions and prejudices that lies not only just beneath the surface of modern-day America, but also deep within himself. Nor is he aware of the existence of the Black Unicorns, a determined group of black revolutionaries, one of whom – Jefferson Prile – has been given a very special assignment…
With his customary highly visual narrative skill and superb imagery, Christopher Leach once again focuses with brilliant clarity on a disturbing aspect of American life, sustaining a sequence of events that builds to a dramatic, powerful climax.
THE EVERYTHING MAN
This book is a celebration of the myths of America, supreme among which was the life of Glenville Rice Sherrard – The Sage of the South-West – one of the most colourful and best-loved Presidents of the United States, who rose from humble beginnings in a small Texas town, to become Senator for Lennox County at twenty-nine, Governor of the State of Texas at thirty-three, and who, at thirty-eight, entered the White House.
President Sherrard’s later years have been well documented by historians, but this book instead charts that earlier period when, as a lowly salesman in the Sherwood Room of Comstock Sports, he took his first unfaltering steps towards Washington, and the highest office in the land.
In these pages we meet oil-barons and their vassals, truck-drivers and their wives, politicians and artists’ models, ranchers and morticians, prize-fighters and cowhands: the many faceted society whose willing heart Glenville Rice Sherrard won, and made his own. The Everything Man is a tribute to that brightest of American dreams: that a burning ambition, hard unremitting labour, and a decent concern for others, inevitably gives a man everything he desires, and more.