Book review: Incendiary by Chris Cleave

IncendiaryIncendiary by Chris Cleave
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Original, entertaining, authentic and believable

An East End [of London:] woman decides to write a letter to Osama bin Laden after a team of his suicide bombers wreck her life by indiscriminately blowing up the crowd at a football match, killing both her husband and her four-and-a-quarter year-old son, along with over a thousand other football fans.

The letter is written, mainly in the authentic language of an East End gal, but with snippets of people from other worlds. The grammar and punctuation is appalling, but it is totally in context. She relates, to Osama, all of the events and all of her feelings from immediately before the atrocity to many months afterwards.

There is a lot of humour interspersed throughout the tragedy. One of the funniest passages that I have read recently will not spoil your enjoyment of this book.

It didn’t smell posh in Harvey Nichols it smelled of all the different perfumes in the world very strong and mixed up together. It felt like having your throat scraped. I took my boy into John Lewis once and it smelled just like that in the perfume section. Yuk Mummy he said. It smells nice and nasty all at once. It smells of angels’ feet.


I can understand why some people do not like this style of writing and cannot get into the book at all. This is a book that you will either love or hate. It is either one star or five stars plus plus. I cannot tell what it will be like for you, but I would recommend that you give it a chance. For me, it was one of the best books that I read in 2009.

View all my reviews

About Lance Greenfield

Blog: email: I published my debut novel in December 2014: Eleven Miles. My second novel went live in February 2016: Knitting Can Walk!
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