This is not a book for the lily-livered. Bold, courageous and confrontational, The End of Alice is most disturbing. It is also very, very good. There is absolutely nothing engaging or delightful in this story which relates, through correspondence, the exploits of an imprisoned paedophile and his young, wild prototype. It is uncomfortable reading: repulsive and gripping in almost equal measure. Deliberately shocking, Homes forces unpleasant questions, at each and every turn of the page judging perfectly how readers are likely to react, catching them in their own doubts with scary precision. The erotic correspondence, delicious to the letter writers, works well in revealing how a paedophile, imprisoned twenty three years ago, is also witty and intelligent, manipulative and guiltily complicit. Turning the final page comes as a relief: can't imagine anyone actually enjoying reading this novel but it is rewarding in its own way. A unforgettable literary questioning of liberalism and modernity, it deserves attention.