Peter Buwalda - Bonita Avenue (4 stars)

A compelling tale that grips from its innocuous start to its pitch-black conclusion

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Peter Buwalda - Bonita Avenue

University Rector, judo champion and famed mathematician Siem Sigerius is slowly being driven mad with suspicions that his step-daughter's boyfriend may be pimping her out on an internet porn site. The boyfriend, meanwhile, is barely managing to control his schizophrenia with pills and therapy, and the step-daughter, Joni, is struggling to deal with his mood swings and obsessive jealousy. And hanging over them all is the threat of Joni's psychopathic step-brother Wilbert, just released from prison and harbouring deep resentments towards his estranged family.

Although the narrative bounces between three different protagonists, this is very much Siem's story. When we first hear of his death in an early flash-forward, we only know Sigerius as the world sees him, but as we learn the details of his past and the events leading up to his demise, the respectable, indomitable veneer that he presents to the public is gradually chipped away to reveal the writhing mass of human frailties and capacity for madness beneath.

Peter Buwalda's debut is a compelling tale that grips from its innocuous start to its pitch-black – if slightly far-fetched – conclusion. Already a smash hit in Holland, with a TV adaptation in the pipeline, this newly-translated edition will hopefully enjoy similar success in the UK.

Published by Pushkin Press on Thu 10 Apr.

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