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3.3  ·  Rating Details ·  467 Ratings  ·  30 Reviews
Prentis, the narrator of this nightmarish novel, catalogs "dead crimes" for a branch of the London Police Department and suspects that he is going crazy. His files keep vanishing. His boss subjects him to cryptic taunts. His family despises him. And as Prentis desperately tries to hold on to the scraps of his sanity, he uncovers a conspiracy of blackmail and betrayal that ...more
Paperback, 219 pages
Published May 1st 1985 by Pocket Books (first published 1981)
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Etienne Hanratty
This is, to my mind, the weakest of Graham Swift's novels. Following his strikingly accomplished debut, The Sweet Shop Owner, this book promises much but suffers from trying to satisfy too many roles. On the one hand, it's a cramped, paranoid thriller set in a mysterious record office; on another, it's a meditation on identity and the relationship between fathers and sons. The difficulty comes in reconciling the two and, in this, Swift is only partially successful. Perhaps it would be churlish t ...more
Barbara Elsborg
Sep 25, 2015 Barbara Elsborg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Should some secrets remain secrets? Can you live with keeping them secret? The main protag of the story works in the 'dead crimes' department under the somewhat tyrannical overview of his boss. Our 'hero' Prentis's home life grows increasingly strained as we seen his relationship with his wife and boys gradually disintegrate, though it was never 'right' in the first place. His relationship with his mute and sick father who lives in a nursing home is another enigma. Prentis becomes obsessed with ...more
The biggest pitfall of the book is, I think, its structure, a classic Nabokovian confession of a loquacious, grandiloquent, self-conscious monster riddled with appeals to the audience, placing readers as jurors. Once you make that particular structural choice, you set a bar rather high, and I don't think this novel ever reaches the expected level (although Swift's other novels might). While it did some interesting things with confessions within confessions, possibly setting up the extra level of ...more
Martin Boyle
Nov 19, 2016 Martin Boyle rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviews
This is quite an interesting take on a father-son relationship overshadowing the son's future life.

The sadistically inclined son, now a father himself, lives in his own little world of suspicion and distrust based on his own inadequacy. He is the narrator, and one that elicits little sympathy and less empathy. The novel ends with him "seeing" his father's weakness and his own developing status and increased "power and responsibility," which together allow him to reassess his own self-worth and
Apr 21, 2015 George rated it really liked it
Shelves: 20th-century
Πολύ ενδιαφέρον βιβλίο, που μπορεί να χαρακτηριστεί και σαν ψυχολογικό θρίλερ, μια μικρή αγωνία την έχεις για να δεις που τελικά θα καταλήξει η όλη ιστορία.

Πρωταγωνιστής είναι ο Πρέντις που δουλεύει σε ένα γραφείο όπου κρατούνται όλοι οι φάκελοι με στοιχεία όλων των υποθέσεων που έχει αναλάβει η αστυνομία και έχουν μπει στο αρχείο. Είναι κάτι σαν βιβλιοθηκονόμος ή φύλακας αρχείων. Δεν έχει πλήρη πρόσβαση, μόνο ο Κουίν, ο προϊστάμενός του, έχει πλήρη πρόσβαση στα αρχεία, ο οποίος βγάζει τη πίστη
Soumen Daschoudhury
Read the entire review on my blog:

Ignorance is bliss! What you don’t know will not hurt you.
A lot happens in the world around us. And some of this ‘lot’ may directly or indirectly affect us, for good or bad. Some secrets are better kept under the sheets. There is already a huge mountain of woes and miseries clandestinely floating around the world. Wouldn't it be better to not increase any more of it by keeping away from people things which could invariab
Ian Mapp
Feb 11, 2011 Ian Mapp rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lit-fict
Picked this up - it looked like a new Swift Book (I cannot recommend Last Orders and The Light of Day highly enough). This turns out to have been a much earlier book, written in 1981.

The story is of Prentice - A cruel man, working in a dead end job filing historical crime records for the police.

He has a family that he either dominates or ignores in equal measure and a boss that bullies him. You feel in the book that his frustrations are going to end in major tears.

This is a psychological book, g
Jun 19, 2014 Ronnie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Prentis, the book's narrator, is such an insecure and unlikeable asshole that it almost had to be fun for Swift to create him, I thought pretty regularly throughout. By the end, it initially struck me as a little too easy to blame the bulk of Prentis's problems on his issues with his father, but then, who knows? Understanding and coming to terms with parental influence is often the psychoanalytical lynchpin to overcoming something like an inferiority complex that has heretofore prevented growth ...more
Tijl Vandersteene
Waterland van Graham Swift is absoluut een van de beste boek die ik ooit (her)las omdat Swift op een onopvallend geniale manier verhalen weeft. Zijn talent komt ook in Shuttlecock (zijn 2de roman, 1981) boven maar niet zo indrukwekkend als in Waterland (zijn 3de roman, 1983). Bovendien is het verhaal minder breed én minder diep.
Hij slaagt er wel in om verschillende lagen en lijnen samen te brengen in een boeiend geheel maar alles is toch iets te net-niet-supergoed. Als je het bekijkt als een op
Prentis is a bastard. He treats his wife and children poorly and suffers from the fear that his boss is destroying top secret police files of long forgotten cases.

His only refuge seems to be visits with his silent father and reading the memoriors of his dad during his time as an English officer in France during WW II. He searches for a way to know his father in the words of his story.

The book is a little hard to access. I found it really difficult to care about the narrator and considered aband
Aug 29, 2009 Joyce rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
A distinctly odd psychological thriller from a writer I greatly admire, Shuttlecock delves inside the mind of an unhappy and perhaps paranoid archivist who works in the dead cases archives of the London police department. Writing in the first person as Prentis, the archivist, Swift examines relationships, motivations and reactions of those closest to Prentis: his boss, the calculatingly cruel Quinn, his ever "pliant" wife Marian, his children, and his stroke-silenced father, a British spy during ...more
Sep 06, 2015 Anne rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I did not enjoy this book. The main character, Prentis, is a dull non-entity, an archetypal anti-hero. And the book is slow. Not a good combination...

(view spoiler)
K.E. Page
Aug 25, 2016 K.E. Page rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: war, anti-heroes
Both interesting and strange novel about the nature of truth and knowledge. Prentis' father has recently suffered a breakdown and refuses to speak. At the same time, Prentis is concerned that his boss is playing games with him. When it transpires that missing files at work relate to his father's war experiences, Prentis confronts his boss. Prentis is not particularly likeable but it is possible to understand why he is the way he is. The narrative is compelling and his voice is convincing. The en ...more
May 31, 2009 Scott rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fantastic novel. Strikes me as less like Waterland and Last Orders, which and more like a more conventional kind of mystery or thriller (albeit a thriller that's deeply focused on characters haunted by guilt over their past actions).
Oct 05, 2014 Brian rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A half-hearted attempt to be Kafkaesque, I feel. Didn't believe a word of the Quinn relationship, Marion is grievously underwritten. I enjoyed the prison story, almost the only credible narrative - is this the point? The problem with an unreliable narrator who is such a berk is that we don't really care about him. I thought the resolution of the ending faintly risible, but perhaps that's also the intention. Hmmm
Yet again I was right to ignore the critical reviews that some of Swift's novels get. I like him, and I liked this - I need to follow my own reading instincts. The plot was secondary for me, what I loved was the way he gets beneath the skin of his characters - similar to McEwan - and makes for quality time spent in their company. Not his best perhaps, but still good.
I like nearly all of Swift's fiction, but I have difficulty remembering the plot of this one. I recall there was some of Swift's common ground - a multi-generational, non-chronological narrative, some family strife and a father who tries to impress his son. Probably some adultery. But I don't remember much else.
Oct 21, 2014 Mikee rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: british
A very strange book. About secrets and truth and uncertainty as to what is true, and what truth means. All is uncertain, in moral as well as absolute terms. This book deserves to be read again, if only to sort my true feelings about it.
Saibal Bose
Cannot figure the particular reason why I liked this book. Some things can be pointed out though. A fluent writing style, well documented dilemma of the protagonist, the sinister plot and the synchronization of the weird elements and above all the story-within-a-story narrative.
Would give it a 3.5
Really interesting and creepy setup. Not really any payoff whatsoever. I tried reading Waterland in the nineties but never got into it, for some reason. I had the opposite problem with this, really I got really invested towards the beginning. And then.
Catherine Woodman
Jul 29, 2011 Catherine Woodman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this with Jake and Joel and liked it far more than they did--it is an ambiguous story of past and what the effect of the past is on the present--and how they also affect the future
Nov 12, 2016 Velocity rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 3-stars
Weird, depressing, does not quite reach its full potential but does not quite let you put it down, either.
Apr 14, 2012 Lorna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An early book. Psychological but not a thriller. No likeable characters really quite black humour and well written. As ever I wish there were half stars.
Oct 03, 2012 Will rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of those books that takes you inside a not entirely likable character. But by the end I found myself very sympathetic. Not as good as Waterland, but a very readable and enjoyable story.
May 04, 2016 Mary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Early book by Swift (1981). A family story, a mystery story, a combination of humor and sadness and guilt. Another great book by Swift.
Sofie rated it liked it
Nov 15, 2014
cameron rated it really liked it
Jan 28, 2014
Saskia rated it liked it
Mar 05, 2012
Ash J. Bartlett
Ash J. Bartlett rated it liked it
Apr 11, 2016
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Dec 24, 2014
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Graham Colin Swift FRSL (born May 4, 1949) is a British author. He was born in London, England and educated at Dulwich College, London, Queens' College, Cambridge, and later the University of York. He was a friend of Ted Hughes.

Some of his works have been made into films, including Last Orders, which starred Michael Caine and Bob Hoskins and Waterland which starred Jeremy Irons. Last Orders was a
More about Graham Swift...

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