There are normally three problems with reviews of books which, like This is the Way by Gavin Corbett (Fourth Estate, £14.99), concern the Traveller community. The first is that while most people have only just got used to the fact that Traveller now has a capital ‘T’, the reviews must avoid those other words you’re not supposed to have in your head any more, though everyone does. Yes, even Guardian journalists and BBC editors; I once heard one of the latter breed say, after everyone had discussed a radio drama about Travellers using the ‘correct’ terminology: ‘Oh, you mean the pikey play?’
The second problem is that the reviews feel obliged to use phrases such as ‘troubling, mysterious’, ‘visceral imagination’ and ‘the man is an original, with a bridge to the world of first things he’s fashioned for himself’ (all appear on the back cover of this book).
Fair enough, perhaps — you need to signal to potential readers that if their normal author of choice is Dan Brown, this probably isn’t the novel for them. But it does mean you get no idea of what the book’s actually about: in this case, an Irishman hiding in Dublin because of trouble between his family and a rival one.
The final problem is that the reviews never say the thing that needs saying about this book: it’s a bloody good story.