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Books by David Mathew



People in Bedfordshire are disappearing. Two teenagers are kidnapped from a rural train station. A baby is taken from an urban market. Another baby is stolen from an encampment of Travellers. Two burglars, who have never met, break into a village home and one dies, killed by a giant wave of sea water that appears from nowhere. All the while a strange man obsesses with making a movie…whatever the cost to those around him. Another man appears to care only about the beautiful birds that he keeps in a cage… But nothing is what it seems.

Ventriloquists is a story about a man who discovers a liminal space between life and death. Around him bad people desperately try to defend their appearance of civility…but to what emotional and physical cost?

What does it mean when kidnappers are kidnapped?
Who are the puppets?
And who are The Ventriloquists?

“David Mathew has always had a talent for getting inside the heads of damaged criminal minds and this novel shows those skills at their peak. Read this book and you’ll be taken to some very disturbing places, in the borderland between the strange and the terrifyingly insane. It might just make you doubt the world around you. It might just make you doubt yourself…

Uncompromising. Moving. Compelling. Ventriloquists gives a raw insight into the dream life of Gangster Britain and the fantasies of captive victims.”


O My Days

BILLY ALFRETH IS SERVING FIVE YEARS as an inmate at Dellacotte Young Offenders Institute, in the north of England. Billy has memories of being attacked by three men, but CCTV footage doesn’t bear out his account and he is locked up for stabbing one man. Billy’s world overlaps with that of Ronald Dott, a serial rapist, who claims to know Billy from when he was a child, only that is impossible. And then there is Kate Thistle, ostensibly at Dellacotte to study prison slang, but inordinately interested in both Dott and Billy. As strange events occur and his reality begins to unravel, Billy learns of the Oasis, and a prison ship, and of a desert town called Hospital, where time works in mysterious ways. Dott tells Billy of their terrible entwined histories... whether or not Billy wants to be convinced of what he cannot understand.

“I experienced an acute, often surreal, sense of an offender’s pathology, with all its traps, humour and contradictions. O My Days is a tour de force of powerful writing. It’s demanding, gruelling yet always honest, insightful and finally moving. It explores areas that serious fiction rarely travels to. A quite remarkable novel.”
-Alan Price, author of Outfoxing Hyenas

“This is a writer who has been there, viewed with compassion, and reported back. There is a new mythos here, something that feels ancient and sand-blasted and unfathomable, but it is revealed within the most modern of contexts. Highly recommended.”
-Paul Meloy, author of Islington Crocodiles

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Sick Dice

"David Mathew’s collection mixes slipstream with crime fiction to great effect. Sharply written and full of surprises."
-Gary Couzens, author of Out Stack and Other Places

"Mathew leads the reader into stories of calm and controlled prose, which contrasts with the unsettling way in which he turns our world slant and hallucinatory."
-Iain Rowan, author of One of Us

"Take a glass. Pour two shots of the gritty British workaday angst of the Angry Young Men. Pour a shot of the deep surrealism of China Miéville, add a soupçon of William S. Burroughs – then you have Sick Dice. No matter how you roll them, you come up with a grim world spangled with multi-chromatic psychedelic stars. Like the fate of one of David’s characters, after you read this collection, strange thoughts will ride you like a pony. Remember to take your amphetamines so you won’t commit any dreamcrimes. Highly recommended."
-Don Webb, author of Through Dark Angles

"Mathew toys with our perception of reason, understanding and human instinct. A fantastic compendium which somehow reconciles the everyday with the incomprehensible; the dream with reality; tipping fiction over the edge."
-Maggie Cameron, Artist

"Mathew is a master of subtle unease. His characters, inhabiting a world that is always an inch off-kilter, walk the margins of moral ambiguity in a selection of stories infused with sadness, surrealism and slow-burning mystery."
-Neil Williamson, author of The Moon King

"David Mathew has always had a talent for getting inside the heads of damaged criminal minds . . . you’ll be taken to some very disturbing places, in the borderland between the strange and the terrifyingly insane. It might just make you doubt the world around you. It might just make you doubt yourself. . ."
-Keith Brooke, author of The Accord

"Dysfunctional characters whose lives may have been shattered by childhood abuse, identity confusion and submerged memories inhabit the boundaries between reality and fantasy in these psychological tales: not for the faint-hearted."
-Lawrence Dyer, author of A Cottage on the Moss


The Parry and the Lunge

Five women are joined by more than the bonds of friendship. However, they have no idea that the secrets they individually harbour create a darkness that will draw them closer together with deadly consequences. There is some hope that the arrival of a mysterious policeman named Kolko will help them see the connections before it’s too late. The problem is that everyone keeps forgetting their past – either in little pieces or in whole chunks.

There are hundreds of questions for the women to answer. Is Stephen really back from the dead? Did he die alone and unnoticed in his tenement flat, carving his final words “Please feed me” into the table? Is one of them trying to kill with poisoned pizza? And what happened to the girls in Egypt, or to Dorothy up the side of the mountain that resembled a face?​

Here in The Parry and the Lunge, once again, the master of time-fiction, David Mathew (O My Days, Sick Dice, Ventriloquists) burrows deep into the hidden stories of his characters, where nothing is what it seems, and everyone has something to hide.

“In The Parry and the Lunge, Mathew stirs together idioms and genres into a riotous and pungent stew. What comes over at first as provincial social satire, with the wonted illicit sex and buried violence, opens, like a flower or a wound, becoming strange – a maw gapes under its finely depicted south-Bedfordshire setting and gulps everything down.”

“This is a big book in every way; it has muscles; you can feel it flex as the story unfolds. Mathew is ambitious and daring, even the title bobs and weaves. The language is, as ever, fulminous.”

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Panic Soup

"David Mathew creates a world that’s familiar but seen through a deviant lens. There are shades of Clive Barker and JG Ballard in these stories – fiction that’s all the more unsettling for having its roots in the everyday – but Mathew has his own voice and vision for the twenty-first century."
- Julie Travis, Author of We Are All Falling Towards the Centre of the Earth

"Characters’ messy lives intersect with danger in this nervy, gritty, warped collection from David Mathew. These tales feature aphrodisiac bombs, illegal tritium deals, giant hedgehogs, dream angels, and the impending anxiety of parenthood. The urban sprawl and rural dystopia reflect the sordid emotional and inner world of the characters who are fighting, sometimes for their lives,sometimes to be understood, or sometimes for just a pint. Panic Soup is best served with shots, in a noisy neighbourhood pub where all the patrons are insane."
- Stephen Scott Whitaker, National Book Critics Circle, Managing Editor of The Broadkill Review

"If you love stories with bite, brutality, wit and wonder, you will love Panic Soup. As the title suggests, there is dread here, warmth,trepidation, a multitude of flavours. Drink deep."
- Paul Meloy, Author of Adornments of the Storm

"David Mathew has an eye for nudging characters from the every day to the disturbing."
- CC Adams, Author of But Worse Will Come


Nostalgia's Boat

"Stunning—an intricate and intriguing web of relationships! An ever-morphing story, tightening its grip as it expands, this novel melds the psychological and philosophical. Nostalgia’s Boat is a potent reminder of Randi Reissenweber’s perspective that “When you read fiction, you are, first and foremost, meeting people." -Soramimi Hanarejima

Nostalgia is a bringing or binding together; a conjunction of either happy memories or of a large mosaic memory, shared by many, of something that happened in the so-called good old days.
​- It is not about me and what I remember.
- It is not about you and what you remember.
Nostalgia is a clue that it’s time to challenge what we think we remember. The most startling thing about my teenage years was the incident in which I took Lucas to his Uncle Raymond’s room in the asylum. Things happened on that day that do not compute. They are false. And it’s not for me to tell you what to think. It’s for me to tell you to think.

Find Mr Latham.

Find Lucas.

“The passengers on Nostalgia’s Boat are caught up in a net that is cast far and wide: it draws on the past, present and fantasies for the future, allowing the characters to transcend space and ti me. What is seen above the waters is as important as what lurks below. Mathew is happy to leave us guessing about right and wrong/good and bad in a paradoxical world where the fellowship and ethics of ‘life on the street’ are contrasted with the drive to carry out ‘good’ academic research. Surely, mothers, lovers, au pairs and biscuit manufacturers don’t really behave like this ... or do they? Nostalgia’s Boat is the first David Mathew novel I have read, and it will not be my last.” -Dr Alan Bainbridge, Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist & Co-Editor of Psychoanalysis and Education: Minding a Gap.

“And I am genuinely taken . . . with a potential literary greatness here that deserves far more attention than just mine.” -D.F. Lewis, The Des Lewis Gestalt Real-Time Reviews (on The Parry and the Lunge)

“A top-notch and unnervingly dreamy thriller from an author who really knows how to get inside your head.” -Nick Gifford, Author of Erased and Piggies

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Dreadnought Flex

“Dreadnought Flex was why I left Copenhagen and came here –to West London."
Businessman, sociopath and aspirational cookery writer, Dreadnought Xavier Flex is a man out of time … in at least two senses. Not only does he feel the threats to his wellbeing moving closer, he is worried that his leadership of his team of thugs is slipping. For now, he manages to keep the rival gangsters in their place … but for how long?

A Danish visitor with secrets of his own – Rene – is convinced that he has known Dreadnought at other periods of their shared history through the centuries – and will continue to know him into a future they are starting to glimpse. Rene wants to write Dreadnought’s biography. What better way of gaining Dreadnought’s trust than to become part of his violent team?

But who is Rene really, and how can he have known the various versions of Dreadnought who have existed? Where will their tangled timelines lead?

“Dreadnought was a very real presence back in those days, when David Mathew first cautiously introduced him to me. You could feel him lurking there in the pub with us, glaring and muttering virile threats, peeling off notes from a grenade of fivers, as roseate and raw with pressure as a phimosis. The terrible ideas he had, the appalling decisions he made, the crisp deterrents he meted. Unyielding, sentimental, complex, simple; a force. A paradox. An enigma. A cunt. Let David Mathew introduce you to Dreadnought Flex. See how you do.”
-Paul Meloy, Author of Adornments of the Storm

“Dreadnought Flex is written with such clarity and insight that it gets to the heart of broken masculinity. A thrilling and savage read.”
-Jonathan Oliver, British Fantasy Award-winning anthologist and writer

“Let’s say Dreadnought Flex is a weird crime combination of time-travel and casual violence, or perhaps Dreadnought Flex is an SF novel replete with bar room anecdotes running an East End vibe, or maybe Dreadnought Flex is the prelude to a master criminal’s cook book where the recipes – and also these definitions – should be taken with a pinch of salt. Then let’s say Bone is a better condiment, a gateway to access alternate versions of the novel and its characters, where Mathew has cooked a fast-paced hybrid with a distinct voice and a twisted heart. If that’s what we’re saying Dreadnought Flex is about, then we might just be getting close.”
-Andrew Hook, Author of the Mordent neo-noir crime series (The Immortalists, Church of Wire)

“You won’t be able to take your eyes off Dreadnought Flex. And you’d be wise not to – he’s as unpredictable as this strange, original, exhilaratingly funny novel.”
-Mat Coward, Dagger and Edgar nominated crime writer

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