Reviews from Lord Taylor of Glencoe
Spin: Martin Sixsmith, July 14—21, 2014
My rating: ♦♦♦♦◊
The former BBC journalist-turned-Downing Street spin doctor Martin Sixsmith has written a novel about Nigel, a former BBC journalist-turned-Downing Street spin doctor.
Spin makes it quite obvious that the author’s experience is being heavily drawn on to create a murky, duplicitous world of politics that resembles the BBC’s The Thick Of It in its unapologetic panic.
It opens excellently with a complete disaster – the disappearance of a young girl on a council trip – told entirely by dialogue in swift scene cuts between the organisers, her parents, the media and other stakeholders in the crisis. Through this panicky claustrophobia, we meet Selwyn Knox who, as Nigel discovers, may or may not have had any part in what happened to her.
Although the novel seems to splinter off quite disparately in the middle, Sixsmith pulls the threads back together with grace. We see the brutal risings and fallings, the shifting of power in the space of a headline. And we see the descent from genius to madness played out before us.
Believable and unflinching, Sixsmith’s Spin is unpredictable and shameless. He knows just what to reveal and when to ensure interest is sustained and surprises knock you over. Sometimes dark, sometimes unlikely, but always intriguing, Spin lets you dip your toe into a world we rarely see, and perhaps just as well.