John Connolly’s books of the year

Author of The Creeps and co-author, with Jennifer Ridyard, of Conquest

The most alternately frustrating, moving, boring, thrilling and baffling book of the year was Red or Dead (Faber), David Peace's exploration of the life of Bill Shankly, the manager who transformed the fortunes of Liverpool FC between 1959 and 1974. To find a stylistic means of expressing Shankly's obsessive nature, Peace opts for extensive, mind-numbing repetition and describes even the most minor of Shankly's routines, whether domestic or footballing, in the minutest of detail, down to the placement of cutlery on his breakfast table. The result is OCD rendered in novel form for 700 pages, but when it works it exerts an almost hypnotic power over the reader. I have never read a book quite like it, but I can't shake off the suspicion that Shankly would have viewed it as a load of old cobblers.

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