What a marvellous book. I've enjoyed four other Patrick Hamilton novels (Hangover Square and the Gorse Trilogy) and this is right up there with the best. Hamilton returns to some of his familiar themes: London, the War, and fascism. Set in 1943 it deals with the ordinary lives of ordinary people. As well as the battles facing Britain, there is one closer to home. The battle between the novel's protagonist Miss Roach, a shy spinster in her thirties, and the monstrous Mr Thwaites, with whom she has the misfortune to live with in a boarding house just outside London. Mr Thwaites represents fascism, and is a malevolent bully, who takes every opportunity to attack Miss Roach during their shared meals. He is sinister and comically absurd and is part of what makes this book so powerful. Patrick Hamilton's use of language is magnificent and, after a gripping narrative, the slaves of solitude return to their lives of stoicism. I don't want to say anymore for fear of giving too much away. Suffice it to say this is one of the best books I've read in ages.