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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

White Chappell, Scarlet Tracings

Iain Sinclair

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To purchase White Chappell, Scarlet Tracings

Title: White Chappell, Scarlet Tracings
Author: Iain Sinclair
Genre: Novel
Written: 1987
Length: 210 pages
Availability: White Chappell, Scarlet Tracings - US
White Chappell, Scarlet Tracings - UK
White Chappell, Scarlet Tracings - Canada
  • Sinclair states that this novel: "closes the triad begun with Lud Heat (1975) and Suicide Bridge (1979):it opens, hopefully, a second triad."

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Our Assessment:

B : bizarre but intriguing novel from the dark side

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
The Guardian . 11/8/1995 Nicholas Lezard
The Guardian . 14/11/1998 Matthew Leigh

  Review Consensus:

  Noncommittal. They seem to grant that it is an intense experience, but little beyond that.

  From the Reviews:
  • "The mise-en-scène may be Ackroyd's, but the prose is immeasurably more intense, the connections more disturbing." - Nicholas Lezard, The Guardian

  • "Troubling." - Matthew Leigh, The Guardian

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Iain Sinclair's first novel follows two main storylines: the mystery of the Whitechapel Ripper murders (the Jack the Ripper tale, in other words), and the obsession of booksellers. A sometime bookseller, bibliophile, and geographer and historian of London, Sinclair is well-equipped for such a tale. His eye and ear for the underside of human activity, and his stylized prose make for an entertaining if highly unusual read.
       The tales from the booktrade are eye opening and fun, allowing for Sinclair's acerbic asides and too true to life stories. It is A Study in Scarlet that is the sought for item here, a book holding some clues to the other mystery on offer.
       That one -- Sinclair's variation on the Ripper story -- is also worthwhile. It is certainly atmospheric, and neatly evoked. The story has been done to death, but Sinclair's go at it offers enough that is new or different.
       Not your usual mystery or thriller, not your usual literary turn on the mystery, Sinclair is a sometimes maddening but generally interesting author. He writes well, though the flow of the narrative is often too abrupt -- and too great, a flood flashing by. White Chappell, Scarlet Tracings is at least of a reasonable length, more tightly focussed than Downriver or Radon Daughters
       Recommended as a good introduction to Sinclair's oeuvre it is a good, dark, somewhat complex read.

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White Chappell, Scarlet Tracings: Iain Sinclair: Other books by Iain Sinclair under review: Other books of interest under review:
  • See Index of Contemporary British fiction under review

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About the Author:

       London author Iain Sinclair has written several collections of poetry, as well as a number of novels and documentary works.

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