A Good Father: What makes an ordinary man kill his family?

Catherine Talbot’s debut novel about familicide in south Co Dublin is compelling

Catherine Talbot has written a confident and compelling debut. Photograph: Fiach O’Neill

Catherine Talbot has written a confident and compelling debut. Photograph: Fiach O’Neill

“You give so much of yourself away in the beginning, so much that at times it doesn’t seem right or fair.” This is one of many intriguing insights into relationships given by narrator Des over the course of Catherine Talbot’s engaging debut novel, A Good Father.

The statement has value in its own right, but takes on new meaning as we go deeper into the troubled home life he shares with his artist wife, Jenny, and their three children. By the end of this twisty, complex story, we learn that Des has wilfully deceived his spouse right from the beginning of the relationship, hiding his own personality in favour of a construct of a good guy, then a good boyfriend, a good husband, and finally, the titular good father.

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