Review of small press and independent books.
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The Smile of Deceit by Eileen R Elgey
Published by YouWriteOn.com ISBN 978-1-84923-503-7
Available post free from the Book Depository plus all the usual online retailers.
I know the author, Eileen Elgey, from the Wear Valley Writers. She's a very unassuming lady who had to be nagged and nagged to do a book launch when this super novel was published. She agreed, and the event was the most popular launch it's ever been my pleasure to attend. There's a reason for this. Eileen hasn't been writing for all that long, but her stories have already won competitions, and those of us in the writing group knew full well that any novel would be superb. She self-published, originally intending to have only half a dozen copies printed for family and friends. In the event, she had more like two dozen printed for the launch, and of course it was no where near enough, but as this is a print on demand book this wasn't a problem.
The story starts dramatically with a guest at a lakeland hotel discovering a corpse in the bath. The inspiration came from a visit to a hotel where Eileen was surprised that her room didn't appear to have full en suite facilities until she opened what she assumed was the wardrobe to discover a bath inside it. Perfect.
After the discovery of the body, the tale is told in flashback so that the reader can find out who the body is, and how it came to be there. The plotting is convincing and the characters real.
The book isn't perfect. It hasn't had a professional edit, so there are some eccentricities of punctuation which are distracting at first, but the story is so strong one soon learns to ignore them. There are also a few muddlings of tenses, which an editor would have sorted out, but again, the plot is so gripping one skims over any infelicities to find out 'who done it'.
The title comes from William Blake:
There is a smile of love,
And there is a smile of deceit,
And there is a smile of smiles
In which these two smiles meet.
Highly apt, given the content.
Given the local success of this novel, I hope Eileen will now have the confidence to approach agents and publishers with her other novels. She deserves to succeed.
Now that is tempting. Especially after all that furore over the YouWriteOn 5000. Wouldn't it be great if someone managed to use even that as a springboard. There really are so many paths for writers to take!