Book Review: “The House of Rumour” by Jake Arnott

Imagine a secret history of the decades from 1940 to 1980, a web of hidden connections just waiting to be uncovered. Jake Arnott’s latest book by turns reveals and hides just such a web.

Up until now, Arnott’s books have mostly been damned good crime novels, usually set in London’s tumultuous Sixties and Seventies. But The House of Rumour is another animal entirely. It’s still recognizably Arnott writing it, but if all you had was the blurb to go by, you might well think it was a Tim Powers book.

Even if you were familiar with Arnott’s earlier works, this one might throw you. There’s no central narrative – just 22 chapters (one for each of the Tarot’s Major Arcana), each of them more or less a short story, but each of them clearly a part of the larger story that Arnott is half telling, half alluding to.

It’s a fascinating story, and an equally fascinating way to tell a story, with the full impact of the story only emerging as later details are revealed and connections between these superficially disparate events become apparent.

It is the best thing Jake Arnott has ever written – even considering the high standard of his prior works.

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