See also:

The Lucky Alphonse (1982)


The format for this fourth ‘straight’ novel has changed. It is a volume which contains three novellas written to emulate a musical symphony in three movements. The underlying theme stems from a mildly dirty anecdote about a man called Alphonse, a waiter, who is spotted by his employer lying on the grass between two other employees. The employer far from being outraged at this picture of depravity exclaims, ‘Ze lucky Alphonse, in ze middle again.’ Each ‘movement’ has a protagonist whose name is a variant on Alphonse and each is set in a different country, two of them familiar Keating territory, India and Ireland and the third, Africa, breaking new ground. The mood is different to suit the ‘movement’, romantic; quick-thinking side-stepping out of shady dealings; ingenious unravelling and final resolution of a political situation. In each case the ‘Alphonse’ character finds himself the man in the middle faced with a problem to be solved.

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A Long Walk to Wimbledon (1978)

For his third ‘straight’ novel Keating takes a leap into the future, to a time when an unspecified total disaster has laid London to waste, where pockets of often barely human people attempt to scratch a living. A London with no transport system, no utilities. A solitary man, holed up in Highgate in the north of the erstwhile capital is astonished to hear his long discarded phone ring and a voice telling him his estranged wife is dying in Wimbledon on the southern outskirts and wants to see him before she expires. The journey he embarks on is fraught with dangers. The route is barely recognisable but there are still well-known landmarks such as a deserted Buckingham Palace with, as its sole occupant, a seemingly mad old woman. Our ‘Everyman’ battles courageously on to his destination, fighting not only the physical obstacles but also the demons of his own fear.

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The Underside (1974)

Keating’s second ‘straight’ novel moves from the imaginary island of his first ‘The Strong Man’ to the deeply realistic underworld of Victorian times. With a main character moving between his natural background of the well-to-do middle classes to the filth and degradation of the seriously underprivileged poor, this novel skates on the thin ice of pornography but never goes over the edge. A disturbing story of a man’s fight with overwhelming obsessions told with sympathy and sensitivity.

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The Strong Man (1971)


This novel – the first time Keating abandons the tight structure of the crime novel – examines the uses and abuses of power and it explores the rebel, Keig’s – reminiscent of Che Guevera – attempt to eradicate the evils rampant on the imaginary island of Oceana. It is an adventure story told in the grand style filled with characters who leap off the page.
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