Throw Me to the Wolves
(JONATHAN CAPE, 336 PP, £14.99)
Tablet bookshop price £13.49 • Tel 01420 592974
In 2010, a young woman in Bristol, Joanna Yeates, disappeared and was subsequently found strangled to death. The police began to investigate, and arrested Yeates’ landlord, Christopher Jefferies, a retired English teacher who lived in close proximity to Yeates. Jefferies turned out to be entirely innocent, yet, during the investigation, the newspapers found something deeply troubling about his eccentric appearance, his solitary lifestyle and his history of having been a teacher at a single-sex public school. Journalists assumed that he was guilty; the Daily Mail, for example, labelled Jefferies “Prof Strange”.
A thinly disguised version of these real-life events lies at the heart of Patrick McGuinness’ new novel, Throw Me to the Wolves, in which a retired English teacher becomes the lead suspect in a murder inquiry, and is monstered in the press, after a young female neighbour is found murdered.