Macmillan New Writing imprint, dubbed ‘the Ryanair of publishing’ by
Hari Kunzru, is now up and running. One early release is this
technothriller, which begins on Christmas Day 1868 as philosopher and
explorer Captain Sir Richard Burton completes a manuscript on the
meaning of life. ‘The Manuscript’ mysteriously vanishes into legend.
From this Indiana-Jones-style premise Fuchs charges into a present-day
story centred on attempts to retrieve Burton’s solution to the riddle
of life, now apparently hidden somewhere on the internet. Interested
parties tripping over each other in their efforts to get there first
include all the usual suspects: hitmen, shadowy ‘intelligence’ agents,
and drug dealers. Fuchs's book is not for everyone. His prose is hard-boiled,
char-grilled, flambéd, and seasoned with metaphors that can be unsettling
in their weirdness. On occasion, multiple viewpoints and subtle shifts of
time confuse the reader, but for the most part, this debut novel crashes
through its faults and emerges as a high-energy, enthusiastic yarn.
The Manuscript is a captivating debut.-IH