I have been completely bowled over by the critical response to The Fountain in the Forest this year. Alongside the in-depth reviews in broadsheets such as the Guardian and Financial Times, and journals including The TLS and Spectator, there have been some really interesting and sometimes passionate reviews on literary blogs.
Most recently Tommi Laine, writing on the Helsinki Book Review:
a detective thriller of unique caliber … It is often acknowledged that restrictions feed creativity, and it is very much true here, considering what an original piece of writing The Fountain in the Forest turns out to be. It is a rather remarkable achievement when you keep in mind the constraints, or, perhaps, that is exactly why it excels. … intellectually stimulating, yet never elitist.
And this one from 1stReading:
The Fountain in the Forest is, first and foremost, an excellent detective novel. Rex not only manages to walk the mean streets but tread the fine line between three dimensional character and classic cop. The use of mandated vocabulary, presented in bold, is fascinating because it is possible to see the way it influences the story from single sentence to plot-point. Perhaps the novel’s most impressive achievement, however, is to revisit the politics of the 1980s, contending that the events of that decade not only reverberate in Rex’s life but echo through modern Britain. Two further volumes are to be welcomed.
ICYM, here’s Richard Marshall on 3am Magazine:
a complex and twisting plot with a genuinely shocking and satisfying dénouement … an extraordinary novel where our sympathies are for a cop who as cop represents the very forces of repression the gut of the novel abhors. … An astonishing achievement.
Nick Garrard for Storgy:
The Fountain in the Forest is a mystery built on mysteries … it has heart and tenderness and leads us to the most unexpected places and at the centre of all this puzzling is a thriller with deep hooks.
Paul Fulcher on The Mookse and the Gripes:
Mondyboy on The Hysterical Hamster:
Wait.. what!?! … I think you’re going to want to read this book and you deserve to enjoy the mix of bewilderment and shock I just experienced because in a world where everything is telegraphed having the apple cart upended, smashed to pieces and then sold as firewood is something to cherish … plays with the genre with a twist so brazen that, on its own, is a commentary on the police procedural. What’s remarkable is that these experimental flourishes don’t undermine what is a gripping, stunning read. …The Fountain in the Forest has set a high bar for the rest of the novels I read this year.
Thom Cuell on Bookmunch:
smartly maps an experimental, Oulipo-inspired structure onto a well-executed police procedural, with both elements of White’s story-telling enhancing the other. … this is innovative storytelling, at once serious and playful, and White addresses serious social issues in his work with a compelling, very readable, style.
Nina Allan on The Spider’s House:
The Fountain in the Forest can be read with all the pleasure you might expect from a knotty police procedural, a knowledgeably detailed, intriguing and compelling police procedural at that. The story drives ever forward, even when it takes you backwards in time to take a look at the roots of the crime in question. Even when it flip-flops between two distinct time-streams and character identities within the space of a single sentence, the sense throughout is of a steady and satisfying accretion of significant information, i.e clues – exactly what you’d hope for from any good thriller. … You could read the novel with no knowledge of OULIPO and enjoy it just as well. … Anyone who enjoyed Keith Ridgway’s Hawthorn & Child or Nicholas Royle’s First Novel will love this book. Anyone who is into Ian Rankin or Denise Mina will love it, too. … Above all, there is the joy inherent in a book well made: language expertly deployed, place wonderfully evoked, ideas, characters, memories, theories, political subtext brought vibrantly to life, a good story well told.
Now here comes the favour.
The mass-market paperback of The Fountain in the Forest is published at the beginning of January 2019 – the new cover will be revealed shortly – so if you have enjoyed or are enjoying the novel, I need to ask a massive favour!
Can you please help us spread the word? Perhaps by giving The Fountain in the Forest a short reader review or even simply a star-rating on Amazon, Waterstones or Goodreads, should you find yourself in those virtual necks of the woods. I would be most grateful and it all helps with the book’s visibility, apparently, which helps find new readers! Thank you ;)