Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Independent novel review: Double Bind by Seb Kirby

“The guy with the bad attitude has been following me all week.”

Seb Kirby gets right into the story in Double Bind. There’s not a wasted word in this book: no background, no world-building, no nonsense. The writing is spare and clean, active yet evocative, told in first-person present tense, which enhances the action and immediacy.

Take this for an example: “Elmington Drive is a wealthy suburban street. Smart gardens, no parked cars, large houses, most with gravel drives and tall shrubs.”

Because he gives readers credit for knowing something, Kirby is able to painted a picture in a few phrases.

In short, Kirby is a true professional writer of fiction.

The story begins with the narrator, successful author Raymond Bridges, meeting his double at a book signing. The double accuses Bridges of stealing his face and identity — and his pen name. Soon, Bridges finds himself in a new body, victim of spreading ripples of identities displaced into new bodies. Double Bind is a science-fiction story presented like a mystery — not an easy assignment for any writer. Kirby has the skill to pull it off.

Kirby makes it all make sense by explaining the process and the science through the characters’ actions. Bridges, who becomes Erin Pascoe (that’s a man’s name in the UK, apparently) gradually learns the details, like one of Raymond Chandler’s detectives.

Kirby makes his characters real through their words and actions more than through verbose descriptions. Bridges is actually not that likeable. He’s a liar, an imposter, someone more than willing to take shortcuts to get what he wants, no matter what they do to others.

Victoria Bletchley, Bridge’s love interest, is one of the most desirable and admirable women I’ve read in fiction lately. An English professor, she’s a long-legged looker, too. She loves “rutting” and reading, more or less in that order, and she’s smart. Even for an English professor.

Here’s my favourite passage featuring Victoria:
Strang [a cop] is sounding impatient ... “Pascoe is a suspect in at least one, possibly two, murders. Keep stalling like this and you’ll leave me with no option but to take you in for obstruction of justice. That’s if I don’t arrest you as an accomplice to murder.” 
I’m wondering how Victoria is going to get out of this when she uses her contextualizing skills to great effect. “OK. I do porn. Looks like I’m well off, but this is my mother’s place and I have expensive tastes.”
Smart, sexy, beautiful, brave and able to think on the spot of something sure to throw a cop off his game — what more could anyone, even a writer, want in a woman?

All the characters are believable, especially the villains, who range from London gangsters to corporate types. Again, Kirby is able to evoke them clearly in the readers’ minds with a minimum of words.

All the way through (it’s not a long book), Kirby keeps us hooked with tantalizing clues and a style that you just cannot put down.

Double Bind may not be Kirby’s best-known book, but if you want a read that won’t let you go, that tells a good story well and doesn't waste your time, download Double Bind now.

Seb Kirby's website and blog


  1. Great review! Thank you for sharing.

  2. That's just moved it several places up my to-read list!!