by Frank Downes
Ted Hamilton’s new job as night porter at the down-at-heel Eagle Hotel propels him into a world of seedy nocturnal goings-on and bizarre characters. These range from the pompous and near-efficient Mr Butterthwaite to bigoted old soldier Harry, via Claudia the harassed chambermaid and Alf Speed, a removals man with a penchant for uninvited naps in strange beds. But then Ted begins to notice that something sinister is lurking beneath the surface.
“The bullshit was flying at me by the hot and steaming arseful. It came from the direction of Mr J Devlin, manager of the Eagle Hotel, Lord Nelson Street, Liverpool.
‘What you’ve got to remember, Ted – can I use first names? – is that politeness and tact are everything in this job. Everything. When I look at the smile of our grateful customers – you know the look don’t you? – I know that we have met a market need.’
“A voice somewhere inside me was saying, Market need? This feller’s a sardine short of the full tin or has just landed from Mars. If you laugh now youÿll never get the job. So I kept my face as serious as I could and looked the slimy po-faced alien in the eyes. ”
Frank Downes’ quirky début novel is by turns eccentric, brilliantly comic and totally outrageous. It offers an experience not to be missed.
FRANK DOWNES was born in Limerick, Ireland, but brought up on a council estate in North Liverpool. He studied English at Edinburgh University, worked at a night shelter for the homeless and as a teacher including a spell in Jamaica. He is currently employed in further education and writes. His work has appeared in the Guardian, The London Magazine and Metropolitan. He lives in Liverpool with his wife and two children. The Long Snake Tattoo is Frank Downes first novel.