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In his fourth short story collection, an exploration of the dark side of modern London, Royle redefines urban Gothic for the twenty-first century. Out go bats, rats, pea-soupers, gargoyles and Jack the Ripper, making way for doppelgängers, geomancy, ghost trains, gentrification, haunted houses, mass-murder walking tours, mannequins and Brexit.

Everybody in London has lived – or at some point in the future will live – in Sinclair Road, Shepherd’s Bush. Including Marco, with his little piles of soil, chalk marks on the wall and keen interest in the dismantled railway line from Addison Road to Richmond.

A woman sees a man on the Tube who looks like her ex. She alights when he gets off and follows him into an art gallery in King’s Cross. She doesn’t talk to him. Next time, she will.

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Often writing against a background of film, art or literature, Royle unearths unease in the streets of Shepherd’s Bush, Hackney or South Tottenham, and creates uncanny effects with innovative, experimental forms. London Gothic is the first book in a series of city-based short story collections. Forthcoming volumes are devoted to Manchester and Paris.

On his first day in a new job an office worker meets Judy and Madeleine, and falls in love. Twenty years later, he watches Judy leave a tall, narrow house and walk, as she does every morning, towards Newington Green. One night, he goes to the house and knocks on the door...