‘The Woman in White Marble’ by Dale Rominger

This is a well-written romp through the clichés of at least three ‘popular’ genres. Dale Rominger is an accomplished writer who has enormous fun with this book. I appreciated his light touch, his perceptive and realistic detail, his irony, sarcasm and occasionally biting humour. “It’s perfectly clear that if you want to write a novel critiquing the socioeconomic political state of America, science fiction is the only legitimate way to go.” Silloth, his place of choice in the middle of nowhere in the North East of England, very close to the back of beyond, is realistically and chillingly ghastly, epitomised by the Silloth resident publicly chastising her son in a stentorian voice: ‘“You’re a filthy boy, wetting your trousers like that. You should be ashamed of yourself. How do you think I feel? I’m humiliated.” “Cut it off Mummy! Cut it off!” Welcome to Silloth.’

dale-rominger-the-woman-in-white-marbleHis protagonist is a journalist who is sure that his fluency, biting wit and shrewd perception of the human condition will stand him in good stead while he writes his space-odyssey, science-fiction, cliché-ridden romance (because that’s what sells). However, while this project is proceeding in fits and starts, he becomes involved in a private investigation unashamedly filled with all the clichés of that particular genre (definite echoes of Raymond Chandler: “Kelly is smart too, but a different kind of smart: the kind of smart you could take to the bank”). The science-fiction fiction becomes intertwined with the PI-supposed-fact fiction as the tongue-in-cheek, typically unlikely bunch of characters cheerfully challenge your willingness to suspend disbelief while the author has some fun with a wholly unlikely African connection and fulfils his typical-of-the-genre obligation to throw in some sex scenes. And just in case this wasn’t enough, the whole thing turns into a ghost story for good measure.

I found it a highly enjoyable, laugh-out-loud romp through the much-loved, clichéd elements of three popular paperback genres by a talented, observant, shrewd, bitingly funny writer – a highly entertaining read.