Last Days in Cleaver Square: Time, memory and ghosts mingle in masterful soldier’s story

Past meets present in Patrick McGrath's shifting, dreamlike novel featuring a Spanish Civil War veteran ‘haunted’ by visions of Franco

Patrick McGrath delights in wrong-footing his readers while creating an utterly convincing and memorable character. Picture: Leonardo Cendamo/Getty Images


Last Days in Cleaver Square

By Patrick McGrath

Hutchinson, €19.70

A spectre is haunting Francis McNulty. It’s 1975 and the Spanish Civil War veteran is floundering in the winter of his life, troubled by memories and guilt. He’s also struggling with a sinister apparition in the form of General Francisco Franco, the fascist dictator who is currently dying in a palace in Madrid. “Hard now to forget the first time I found him in the house. In the house!