‘A meticulous and gripping reimagination of the Brighton bomb’ Observer, Best Novels of 2015
In September 1984, a man calling himself Roy Walsh checked into The Grand Hotel in Brighton and planted a bomb in room 629. The device was primed to explode in twenty-four days, six hours and six minutes, when intelligence had confirmed that Margaret Thatcher and her whole cabinet would be staying in the hotel.
Moving between the luxurious hospitality of a British tourist town and the troubled city of Belfast, and told from the perspectives of a young IRA explosives expert, the deputy hotel manager and his teenage daughter, High Dive is a taut and tender retelling of one of the most ambitious assassination attempts against the British establishment.
Lee’s powerful novel is an extraordinary performance: vividly written, painfully human and fully fleshing the inner lives of its characters.
High Dive did for the Brighton bombings what Garth Risk Hallberg's overhyped City on Fire attempted to do for the New York City blackout - it's a multivoiced epic that builds towards a stunning finale. I loved it.
Achingly good … Satisfyingly tricky when it comes to speeding up and slowing down, keeping readers off balance, teasing them about when what’s already irrevocable is actually going to happen … At his best – and he is at it often – Lee displays a nimble metaphysical wit and a verbal ingenuity on a par with Martin Amis … In High Dive, the ticktock means more than the boom… The novel’s last, almost whispered word about the bombing’s carnage is left to stand among the most devastating observations ever made about terrorism: “Someone had considered this fair”. It is Jonathan Lee’s great achievement to have written, on this of all subjects, one of the gentlest novels in memory.
Jonathan Lee [is] a wordsmith of incomparable eloquence…High Dive is a work of serious and thoughtful integrity.
An ingenious and original mixture of the domestic and the political, set in the days leading up to the Brighton bombing of 1984. At its heart is a father-and-daughter relationship that feels uncannily real and wonderfully touching.
From wartime fiction to satire, history to essays on modern life, here are some books that'll transport you to "the queen of watering places".