The Dwarves of Death


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First published: 1990

Print ISBN: 9780241967737

Price: £8.99

The Dwarves of Death


Each of my novels seems to be a reaction to the one that came before it. After the tricksy, multi-layered narrative of A Touch of Love, I decided to write something simpler.

The story grew out of my experience of playing in a band called The Peer Group during the mid-1980s. The band was formed in 1985, when I was still studying at Warwick University. Most of the other members, however, were medical students at Guy’s Hospital in South London, so that was where our rehearsals usually took place. We began by playing mainly my own compositions, which tended to be tuneful, jazzy instrumentals in the vein associated with Canterbury-school bands like Caravan and Hatfield and the North. Gradually we moved in a more poppy direction, and ended up sounding (or trying to sound) a bit like Everything But The Girl or Prefab Sprout. Our most distinctive feature was the quirky, oblique lyrical content of the songs – all the words were written by our drummer, Ralph Pite, now the author of an excellent biography of Thomas Hardy among many other books.

In the late 90s I co-wrote the screenplay of a film adaptation, Five Seconds to Spare, which starred Max Beesley, Andy Serkis, Ray Winstone and Anastasia Hille. Despite this fine cast, in retrospect I can see that the film suffers from an imbalance between the musical background, the central love story and the murder mystery – the same problem that you find in the book, in fact.

My short story ‘V.O.’, contained in Loggerheads and Other Stories, is a sort of sequel to this novel, revisiting the hero, William, a few years later when he has become a well-known composer of film music.


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