Russell Hoban's black comedy/thriller Mr Rinyo-Clacton's Offer is an entertaining, if slight, read about a heartbroken man who impulsively strikes a strange Faustian bargain with a predatory millionaire. Our protagonist soon regrets his decision however as the unusual Mr Rinyo-Clacton begins to take a close interest in his and his ex-girlfriends lives and the tensions builds. I’ve only read Hoban’s excellent Riddley Walker previously so was a little disappointed by the simplicity of the plot and prose of this book but it’s still a nicely grubby urban fairy tale that’ll keep you busy for an afternoon or so.
Like Hoban’s Offer, The Haunted Woman by David Lindsay is a more mainstream effort from the author who wrote the early philosophical, scifi novel A Voyage to Arcturus. A young woman accompanies her aunt to view a country mansion and finds herself and her engagement troubled by the mysterious building and it’s current owner but tragically is unable to reconcile herself to the opportunity presented to her by some unusual, supernatural experiences. Lindsay handles the dichotomous narrative with aplomb and though it felt a little underdeveloped at times there’s a wonderfully dreamlike atmosphere to events and he has the confidence to leave most of the ambiguities unresolved.