PositiveThe Scotland Herald (UK)...a declaration of a woman’s right to take charge of her own destiny ... To get Rose into a position where she can get to know Connie and win her trust, The Confession relies on a plausibility, stretching contrivance which would be tricky for a lesser book to come back from. But Burton’s three central characters – chief among them Connie, whose insistence on her autonomy has come at a cost to herself and others – are so complex and compelling that their spell is never broken for long.
PositiveThe HeraldThis isn’t simply a murder enquiry for Ander, any more than Throw Me to the Wolves is a straightforward whodunnit ... McGuinness plays all this out beautifully, allowing each aspect of the story to resonate meaningfully with the others.
The mob mentality whipped up by certain teachers in flashbacks may have taken place in the 1980s, but in this context they feel chillingly contemporary. Having the contemplative Ander as his narrator gives McGuinness the opportunity to let the story unspool at its own pace while he explores all its facets in clean prose polished to the point of translucence.
PositiveThe HeraldThis is simultaneously a short story collection and a novel, so some mental adjustment is required until you get the hang of it ... In this book, we are travellers who can only move forward and never look back. It’s tantalising and frustrating, because each slim vignette hints at a bigger story, like teasers for a blockbuster we will never get to read in which all these threads are somehow drawn together. And with twelve of these stories packed into 136 pages, each one stripped down to a minimum of scene-setting and backstory, the farewells come painfully frequently ... Szalay has given us some brilliantly rendered slices of life ... Shot through with moments where communication breaks down and the sense of one’s separateness sets in, these individual scenes nevertheless form a coherent whole, and there’s barely a story here which isn’t in some way engaging and absorbing, the author’s compassion and involvement with his characters shining through even in their times of deepest isolation.