The Secret Life of E. Robert Pendleton, the eloquent new novel by Limerick-born author Michael Collins, will appeal to fans of the whimsical style of Larry McMurtry and John Irving.

This tale of a story based around a murder is set against the backdrop of the everyday mundane paranoia of a small town campus and the small-minded people who live there, with their various sordid secrets.

The fading literary star, E. Robert Pendleton, is falling slowly back into the oblivion that belongs to a not-even-quite-a-one-hit-wonder writer.

Sadly for him, he is saved by college temptress Adi Wiltshire, but following a three-month coma he is left a drooling, wheelchair-bound man. In his will he has left everything to Adi and she finds and eventually publishes his novel Scream, a semi-autobiographical tome with a fictional murder as its premise. The triangle of Pendleton, Horowitz and Wiltshire is glued together by love, guilt, jealousy and pity.

Policeman Ryder with his own problematic past and photographer Wright are also dragged into the story and the waters are further muddied by the victim herself, her family and past.

Ultimately however, this book is more about the machinations of the literary world than the murder that would, at one point, appear to form its centrepiece.

Delia Barnard