Itch, an abbreviation of a dear departed soul resting in Holy Trinity, the parish church in Blythburgh, Suffolk, is also the nickname of the hero in this thriller from the pen of pop-tastic BBC radio presenter Simon Mayo. Set in Cornwall and a modern day version of earlier swashbuckling style tales, Itch is a bit of a loner with an obsession to collect all the elements in the periodic table. This process lands up getting him into all sorts of difficulties right from the start.
OK, I confess, I loved reading this book, not a skimpy tome at just over 400 pages, yet one I found I could not put down despite it probably being targeted at those of somewhat fewer years! However, there are nuggets for more mature readers to latch onto. For example, when I read the words 'Cousin Jack' early on I immediately wondered if Simon was subtly referring to the very excellent folk artistes Show of Hands? His allegiance becomes progressively more unveiled, culminating with a specific mention in an appendix. Beyond that I am left wondering if the Doctor Fairnie's name is actually an homage to the late, lamented and mutual friend Steve...?
Simon has been quoted as saying he didn't set out to write an educational book yet it ticks lots of curriculum boxes, even if one moment in the Chemistry may be slightly suspect. Check out the Itchingham website for more information along with Simon's podcasts.
I'm already looking forward to the promised sequel.