‘This is all about the Orkney Islands. Sodden and Gomorrah. Beauty and evil. Orkney noir.’
Alexander A. Alexander doesn't have a watch, doesn't have a faether. Ephraim doesn't need a faether but needs that watch. Mister Flett has something they both want. Poor Mister Flett?
‘There is nowhere as uncomplicated and crystal clear and as pure as Orkney.
There is nowhere as mysterious, as dark and as filled with menace as Orkney.’
In this original book, David takes stock of life through the eyes of 16-year-old narrator Alexander A. Alexander in part one, ‘Chiff’, and then as a 27 year old in part two, ‘Chaff’. The book takes readers on a comedic and childlike journey with twists and turns and teases like the West Mainland coast road. The breathtaking Orkney landscape is the main character in this novel. With the richness of its wildlife, mythology, Neolithic past and centennial First World War commemorations, Orkney is no ordinary set of islands.
Inspired by Flann O’Brien’s The Third Policeman published 50 years ago, Chiff Chaff is a murder thriller and a reflection on personal morality. But beneath the surface it explores themes of entitlement and greed and self regard and need for recognition and above all for hope of a brighter tomorrow.
What a strange, confusing book! Yet it won me over. Once I stopped trying to make linear/literal sense out of it, and just went with the flow, I experienced a charming -yet very odd- adventure. Overall, I enjoyed it very much.
by Janice Bell
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