A publisher rejects the manuscript of a struggling writer; the next submission they receive from him is a thinly-disguised tale of his taking revenge. The threatening MS is promptly sent to the police; but the narrative has changed – and may reflect the writer’s next move. This story has elegant flourishes typical of Lane (‘[As] a publisher…people assume the past is all that matters to you. They forget that you still have to breathe’), but the metaphorical underpinning isn’t as satisfying as that of (say) his ‘Black Country’.

Rating: ***