Colin MacIntyre – The Letters of Ivor Punch (3 stars)

Colin MacIntyre – The Letters of Ivor Punch

Mull Historical Society's MacIntyre releases debut novel

Ivor Punch is a former policeman from an unnamed Scottish island, prone to scribbling letters to public figures, most notably Barack Obama. This novel isn’t just about Ivor though; as the debut of musician Colin MacIntyre (Mull Historical Society), it’s perhaps unsurprising to find the island itself in the role of main protagonist.

Numerous plot strands flit back and forth over a century and a half through a dizzying array of the island’s inhabitants from the fictional to people who actually existed, such as Henrietta Bird, sister of a famed Victorian travel writer. Charles Darwin even puts in an appearance.

Ivor himself shifts from unlikeable to enlightening, but ultimately he is compelling enough to act as the link that holds everything together. The shadow of death (particularly death from falling) looms large and is a striking theme, though a brief flirtation with the supernatural falls flat.

At times disjointed, the novel makes the reader work and actually delivers more on its second reading. MacIntyre is a storyteller with a unique imagination though, and has created a genuinely heartfelt novel with some standout elements of dark comedy.

The Letters of Ivor Punch is out on Thu 14 May, published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson.

Meet the Authors: Summer Pimms Party

The Pimms is flowing at this event celebrating new authors and talent from publisher Weidenfeld & Nicholson. The evening's featured writers are Laura Barnett, Catriona Ward, Colin MacIntyre and Antonia Honeywell.