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It is an open secret that our resident cartoonist and county chess president David Jenkins has been writing a satirical schachnovelle with local relevance. Spurious Games is a witty, at times quirky, novel of ideas masquerading as a murder mystery. The plot features a serial killer calling himself ‘the Turk’ running amok in the sedate contemplative world of Cornish chess and bent on taunting the St Borstal detectives with enigmatic chess-related clues. Baffled, they call in Caradoc Pritchard, an eccentric Welsh Professor of Plagiarism and an expert in psychological profiling. But his insights are challenged by Charlotte Clerley, a yung Newquay detective. It is set in a number of recognizable Cornish locations, with side excursions into darkest West Wales and the ICA’s ‘Cybernetics Serendipity’ exhibition in London.
Although Spurious Games claims to be strikingly original, there are number of unsurprising echoes given the frequent use of chess as metaphor or plot device in literary crime fiction. Its trailblazers in the literary crime novel with a chess theme have included Ronan Bennett’s Zugzwang and Arturo Perez-Reverte’s The Flanders Panel. Published by the Troubadour Press at the end of July, Spurious Games will be available in hardback, paperback and as an ebook.
The ‘side shows’ are important to the novel: academic connivance with plagiarism, radical feminism, the inanities of New age spirituality, apocalyptic fatalism, and whether the game of chess constitutes a mental health hazard: all are treated with equal ironic irreverence. The overarching theme is not chess but authenticity.
You can find more information about the novel and much else besides on David's website http://spuriousgames.org/ which introduces the novel and gives some background to its themes as well as excerpts chosen in a way not to ‘spoil’ the plot. You are invited to take a look!