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The House of Rumour Hardcover – 5 Jul 2012

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Sceptre (5 July 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340922729
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340922729
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 3.6 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 312,481 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


It may be the ideal holiday read for those who like to take their brains with them on vacation. (Mark Lawson, Guardian)

The world of intelligence, the world of creativity, the world of the occult - all these dance round each other flirtatiously...He has the capacity to make us care about humanity...Whatever he touches on feels right, whether he has made it up or looked it up; this is a supremely intelligent book as well as a surprisingly warm one. (Roz Kaveney, Independent)

I loved this book...Once the connections start to engage, it snaps into sharp focus and the structure of the whole comes plain...The artistry of it is stunning (Maya Panika)

dazzling...Shifting character and prose style throughout, Arnott blurs the line between fact and fiction with daring expert precision. (Shortlist)

Arnott offers a brightly coloured portrait of our times that is alternatively intimate and epic...The House of Rumour is a brilliant achievement that invites repeated readings... (James Kidd, Independent on Sunday)

meticulously researched, full of skilful literary ventriloquism and the occasional pastiche (the Fleming section, for example, deftly parodies that author's pragmatic prose style).

Above all, Arnott is forgiving of humankind, of our high aspirations and our failure to meet them, of our low behaviour and our unwillingness to take responsibility for it.

(James Lovegrove, Financial Times)

a virtuoso blurring of fact and fantasy...Arnott is able to indulge his pitch-perfect flair for parody and pastiche...Highly entertaining and perhaps even mind-expanding, Arnott's high-class conjuring act shows that truth really is stranger than fiction. (Phil Baker, The Sunday Times)

While all novelists are called upon to fictionalise reality, Jake Arnott stands out as a dark prince of confabulation....The House of Rumour is a novel that seeks to fold time and space into a series of linked situations...this novel is more than a collection of obscure biographies; it's also about timing and dislocation, and how life and history rest on what sci-fi readers may know as a "Jonbar Hinge", a point at which the future could have taken a different path...If this is that dark Prince Arnott's Jonbar Hinge, the future looks bright. (Andrew Anthony, Observer)

A tantalizing, intelligent novel (Metro)

A potent mix of fact and fiction that takes on 20th-century history but remains a page-turner (Elle)

a thrillingly ideas-packed tale of spies, SF writers, cult leaders, rocket scientists, astronauts, UFO spotters, magicians, astrologists, film makers, rock starts, artists, actors, adulterers and unrequited lovers, all woven into a web where truth and illusion meet. (Book Oxygen)

It isn't a book, it's a revelation. (Geek Syndicate blog)

Book Description

From the author of the cult hit The Long Firm, a mind-bending, thrilling journey into 20th-century history and outer space.

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Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Tommy Dooley TOP 100 REVIEWER on 23 May 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is the latest from Jake Arnott and it is as ever quite an ambitious plot. He has once again mixed fact with fiction, what some have termed `faction' but I am not sure the OED would agree. This is based loosely on the 22 major arcane tarot cards, with each chapter taking one of the cards as a title and indeed a relevant character.

We start with Jake Zagorski and the blossoming Science Fiction pulp writers in America of the 1940's, when imaginations were let to run riot and not be tempered by any actual real space travel. We them move onto WW 2 and British Military Intelligence getting involved in the `black arts' or negritude as they called it. This was a way of spreading disinformation and or counter intelligence, and the occult had its place, especially as Hitler and co were quite often fascinated by the stuff. So we get real characters like Aleister Crowley and Ian Fleming being brought in and I must say it did start to get very intriguing at this point. Then it jumps to another character and so on.

We also have continued references to Rudolph Hess and the British plan to lure him for secret peace talks that culminated in him crashing into a Scottish Moor before spending the rest of his life in prison and being partly responsible for giving a name to a lack lustre eighties new romantic beat combo.

We even have the Jonestown massacre at one point and L. Ron Hubbard. It did feel that some of these episodes had been shoe horned in and that it was a fantastic display of Jake Arnott's encyclopaedic knowledge, but not in a show off way. It helps if you have an understanding of SF lore and literature as well as an understanding of the occult all backed up with a healthy dollop of modern history, but if you don't then it may not hold up too well.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Straightforward TOP 500 REVIEWER on 15 May 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
First - there's no gangsters here. If that's what you're expecting, you're in for something very different. In fact I suspect that whatever your expectations regarding 'House of Rumour', they'll be totally and utterly confounded.

This book is unconventional in its structure, cryptic by nature, demanding, engrossing; at times it sucks you in, at other times it spits you out. With force. And it's science fiction. It's almost as if it had exploded out of Jake under pressure and splattered across the pages, propelled by the collected weight of a legion of gangster stories as it finally got a chance to emerge, rather than written routinely - it feels like it HAD to come out.

At its core lie the hearts of writers like Philip K. Dick and J G Ballard - science fiction masters who, whilst always remaining entertaining, attempted at times in their books to convey realities and concepts that would simultaneously baffle and delight; anyone who has read most of Phil Dick's work will be familiar with the wonderfully disorientating and vividly psychedelic nature of his books, and the dark paranoiac center that often hid within.

There are many different time settings to the tale, and it gleefully jumps from one to another, chapter by chapter, as it progresses; each one is headed by a tarot card (the significance of which is not often clear (even, I would guess, if you have a good knowledge of them). Here, Jake gets to showcase one of his major strengths - he's able to evoke each era very clearly and convincingly (readers of his previous books can attest to this), and the presence of real-life characters like Ian Fleming, Alaister Crowley (he's popped up in a few books recently) and Rudolf Hess only add to the authenticity.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Sam Quixote TOP 100 REVIEWER on 30 Sept. 2012
Format: Hardcover
"The House of Rumour" is Jake Arnott's tour of 20th century curios taking in some of its most defining moments and including some of its most interesting and notorious individuals. Reality and fiction blur as created characters mix with real people, and events have a habit of connecting to other events with tenuous links - "jonbar points", to use sci-fi vernacular.

A classified paper detailing a secret government operation in World War 2 to use black magic and astrology to lure Hitler's second in command, Rudolf Hess, to leave Germany for Scotland is stolen by a transvestite prostitute in late 80s England from a retired spymaster. From there Arnott sends the reader back to the dark year of 1941 where the war was firmly in favour of the Nazis and a young Ian Fleming, commander in Naval Intelligence, utilised his contacts to arrange a meeting with Aleister Crowley, once known as "the wickedest man in the world".

Crowley agrees to Fleming's bizarre plan (or is this disinformation?) to hold magical gatherings to lure Hess to Britain, sending word to his cult centre in California to do the same. And so on to California where we meet a young (fictional) author, Larry Zagorski, who is introduced to Robert Heinlein and his Manana Society where he meets L Ron Hubbard and Jack Parsons. I won't go into the various strands of the story because there are too many to list but they include the Nuremberg Trials, the Cold War, the Cuban Revolution, Jim Jones' Peoples' Temple, UFO conspiracies, and culminating in space with the Voyager 1 probe.

Jake Arnott has written some tremendous books so far in his career but "The House of Rumour" is his best yet and definitely his most ambitious.
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