Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

Swim By Daniel Woodrell


Alek Dunahew hit the river at a slant and came up spewing a brown spray. The river tasted of sickness and rot and he swallowed plenty. He beat at the surface, coughing, sinking. The river pulled him from the shallows to the channel. The old bridge cast a shadow over the river ahead and he went through the dimness and back into light.

A tug was abreast of him, but far away. Two men on the deck stared and waved their arms. They were going upriver and he was going down, soon to be dead. They couldn’t help, but they watched, shouting something to him that the wind muffled. He tried to stroke the surface the way he’d seen everybody else stroke water, but it didn’t work for him, keep him afloat or move him closer to the bank. Cars going to and from St Louis made the bridge hum indifferently with their tyres and speed. He saw the sun up there, shining the surface a brighter brown as he sank, and his prayer was continuous now as he drifted in the sick river and swallowed. He stuck his arms forward in panic and pulled to his chest, pulled like a frog, pulled again and again. It felt like he was moving some, underwater, swimming like a frog, and when he came up next the trees seemed closer. The river was brute and strong and he was new to this, swimming, but he kept doing it, going under and remembering how frogs did it, how they pulled through water and didn’t drown, didn’t drown, until he felt muck under his sneakers and stood trembling in shallows looking up the mud bank. Butter held a long stick down.

“Grab hold ’n’ I’ll pull.”

“I thought I was dead.”

“You shouldn’t’ve lipped off.”

The Maid’s Version by Daniel Woodrell is out now (Sceptre)



The ShortList crime challenge

james sallis.jpg

James Sallis


The long drop by Will Self



Donald Ray Pollock: Inside the mind of a nightmare specialist

Modern master of disturbing prose on the moments from page & screen that made him who he is

05 Oct 2016

Harry Potter fans can now discover their Patronus

Don't lie, you want to give it a go, don't you?

by David Cornish
23 Sep 2016

20 Things You (Probably) Didn't Know About Stephen King

21 Sep 2016

Your chance to see excellent US author Donald Ray Pollock

And also have a beer! Win win

08 Sep 2016

Return to a nineties classic: Chuck Palahniuk on Fight Club

20 years since Fight Club, the author tells us how he’d rewrite his seminal novel for 2016

17 Aug 2016

Details announced for new Partridge book

'Nomad' will arrive this autumn

21 Jul 2016

13 famous books that had very different working titles

by Chris Sayer
10 Jun 2016

George RR Martin has just confirmed this brilliant GOT fan theory

A badass character gets a badass back story

by David Cornish
01 Jun 2016

Twitter account Photoshops 90s’ books to give them titles they deserve

12 Apr 2016

You're going to want these stunning new Shakespeare books

The books your bookshelf deserves

by David Cornish
12 Apr 2016