Books by A. C. H. Smith, Author of Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal


Click on any of the titles below to see more details, or scroll down to view them each in turn.

The Crowd | Zero Summer | Treatment | The Jericho Gun | Extra Cover | Sebastian the Navigator | The Dangerous Memoir of Citizen Sade | Only The Dance

The Crowd

Novel, Chapman & Hall, 1965. ASIN: B0006BWG2S

Book cover of The Crowd by ACH Smith

... the unrelaxing concision, venom, and care of his style. One reads, because he writes.
— Hilary Corke, The Listener

Some of it is funny, like early Murdoch
— Edwin Morgan, New Statesman

The sort of understatement that reminds me a little of the early, black, hilarious Evelyn Waugh
— Isabel Quigly, Sunday Telegraph

(Oh come on, chaps, early Murdoch or early Waugh, make up your minds.)

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Zero Summer

Novel, Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1971. ISBN 0-413-44630-1

Book cover of Zero Summer by ACH Smith

A sophisticated and civilized comedy ... taut and stimulating
— Times Literary Supplement

By any standard a brilliant tour de force
— The Times

A durable literary talent
— Daily Telegraph

A wild comic imagination
— Cambridge Evening News

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Novel, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1976. ISBN 0-297-77073-X

Book cover of Treatment by ACH Smith

In 1964 my wife and I were the subjects of a six-part documentary series on BBC tv, produced by John Boorman, titled The Newcomers. Our friends, especially Tom Stoppard and Derek Balmer, also played parts. I choose the last phrase with care. The BBC themselves admitted that it was less a documentary than 'television's first novel.' Boorman’s series was hailed as tele-vérité, something fresh.

To be in it was a rewarding experience, but finally a deeply unsettling one. A novelist, I had allowed myself to become a character in someone else's fiction. Anyone who knows Flann O'Brien’s great comic novel At-Swim-Two-Birds will recognise what happened next. My reprisal, I realised, would be a novel that fictionalised the making of the tv fiction. This was it.

A solid, cunning book
— Lorna Sage, The Observer

A gripping narrative gift
— Nina Bawden, Daily Telegraph

Behind every quiet sentence lies an explosion of ideas. It's a novel to be read again and again
— Woman's Journal

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The Jericho Gun

Thriller, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1977. ISBN 0-297-77415-8 (hardback), ISBN 0-7088-1398-4 (paperback)

Book cover of The Jericho Gun by ACH Smith

From my forthcoming memoir:
Having never sat on a horse, I decided to write it from the point of view of a small-time punter in Bristol, like me. I came up with the idea of fixing races by using a sonic gun, outside the human auditory range but heard by horses. I consulted a university physicist about the plausibility of it. He explained to me how such a McGuffin as mine might be built and operated, and what it would look like. My last question was, would it work? "I'm not sure," he said,"but if you like I'll rig one up for you, and we can go up to Cheltenham and give it a try." He meant it. "Oh no," I simpered, "I'm a novelist, I’m not for real."

Some years later, I was rung by a solicitor. Would I be ready to be a witness in a trial at Southwark Crown Court? The Jericho Gun was to be called in evidence in a case involving an alleged drugs dealer. Asked by the police why he had been found with half a million pounds in notes in his car, his defence was that the money was to be used to develop a sonic gun to fix horse races, like the one he had read about in my book. What I was supposed to say in court is beyond my conjecture, but in the event I was not called. However, the prosecution did arrange for trials of such an instrument, in which Greville Starkey rode the horse. They were not conclusive. More sinisterly, at Royal Ascot a horse called Ile de Chypre unaccountably veered violently off course as it was coming to win its race, and something similar happened in South Africa. I was interviewed in The Independent, with no hint of villainy on my part but some question whether I might have inspired villains.

Don't miss this unputdownable racing thriller
— The Observer

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Extra Cover

Thriller, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1981. ISBN 0-297-77924-9

Book cover of Extra Cover by ACH Smith

From my forthcoming memoir:
I suggested to my publisher and batting partner Christopher Falkus that I follow up The Jericho Gun with a cricket thriller, using the same pair of anti-heroes. He agreed. Ted Dexter had just published a thriller in a Test match setting, and I felt it unwise to challenge him in the arena of professional cricket, so, again, I wrote from my own experience, in club and village cricket.

Delicious build-up
— The Observer

Classy tale of country house cricket and crumpet
— Guardian

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Sebastian the Navigator

Novel, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1985. ISBN 0-297-78722-5

Book cover of Sebastion the Navigator by ACH Smith

From my forthcoming memoir:
I had so much enjoyed the techniques I devised for Wagner that I went straight into writing a historical novel of my own, about Sebastian Cabot. In 1497 his father, John Cabot, had sailed the Matthew westward from Bristol, intending to open up an Atlantic trade with China and India and the Spice Islands, and instead, to his chagrin, bumped into what we now call the mainland of North America, which, contrary to popular error, had not been discovered by Columbus. Cabot's voyage is the historical origin of our sharing the English language with the USA. Within a few years of his father's death, Sebastian became a great man in Europe, and the first Master of the Merchant Venturers, by claiming all the credit for his father's voyage (on which he probably did not sail), and other discoveries besides, such as a waterway from where New York is to where San Francisco is. The height of Thatcherism was an apt moment for a novel about mendacity. It would be the fifth novel I had set in Bristol ...

John Curtis, the editorial director, wrote to me, I have a good feel about this project altogether. But something went badly wrong ... there were only perfunctory reviews. When I made enquiries, a deep throat at Weidenfelds told me what had happened. The sales reps had given it the thumbsdown, and in modern publishing their opinion outweighed that of my editor, and even the marketing director's. In effect, the book was never published, only printed. I was facing my mid-list crisis.

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The Dangerous Memoir of Citizen Sade

Novel, Loxwood Stoneleigh, 2000. ISBN 1-85135-033-0. Kindle version, 2012.

Book cover of The Dangerous Memoir of Citizen Sade by ACH Smith

My third bio-novel is an account of the period of the Terror in the French Revolution, told by two writers who were incarcerated together and loathed each other: Choderlos de Laclos, author of Les Liaisons Dangereuses, and the Marquis de Sade. Read more >

Read excerpts >

Hardback copies of The Dangerous Memoir of Citizen Sade, signed by the author, are available. Enquiries to
Cost (including postage): UK £19 / Europe €24 / USA $39.

Also available in Kindle format.

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Only The Dance

Novel, Tangent Books, 2021, ISBN 978-1-914345-13-5

Book cover of Only The Dance by ACH Smith

When Covid struck, I needed a writing project. Without one I am out of sorts, a carpenter with no wood. Seeing all the theatres closed indefinitely, it seemed pointless to spend chiselling time working on another play. I already had three completed plays waiting for a producer. Partly because of conversations with my children I decided to revert to my earlier trade, writing another thriller, using the same pair of protagonists as in the previous ones. I knew how they talked, and didn’t talk.

From the publisher’s blurb:

Only The Dance is set against a backdrop of high-end cocaine dealing in Bristol and gang violence in the East End of London.

Charley is a happy-go-lucky chancer surviving on odd jobs. After a casual encounter at a racecourse he becomes a courier for Elira Richardson’s luxury food delivery business. He quickly realises that the boxes of Beluga caviar conceal a far more valuable commodity. When free-spirited Charlotte McFinn enters Charley’s life the sub-plot of a golf course murder begins to weave its way into the narrative, leaving him ever more uncertain about what he has got into.

Only The Dance is a fast-paced thriller which captures the intrigue, greed and ultimately the chilling brutality of the cocaine racket.

As well as in bookshops, the book can be bought for £10 post-free directly from the publisher:

Buy direct from Tangent Books

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