Ellen Ullman, By Blood

Unnerving and taut, with concentric circles of surveillance and confessionals constantly battling for supremacy, By Blood is a gripping read, even if it does carry its weight in strange proportions. Ullman’s decision to let this mysterious figure eavesdrop on her real protagonist, especially from so close by, where a single cough could (and nearly does) give him away, lends the book a sheen of creepiness and vulnerability that’s impossible to look away from.

When the mighty Maud Newton raves about a book, the only correct response is to go out and read it. (I discovered Muriel Spark’s Memento Mori last year by the same method.)

I didn’t love this one quite as unequivocally as she did, but still found plenty to admire. Read my full account, from today’s Edmonton Journal, here.

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