Memoirs of a Master Forger

Graham Joyce
Memoirs of a Master Forger Cover

Memoirs of a Master Forger


Memoirs of a Master Forger is the first book from one William Heaney, who just happens to be the narrator of the novel as well. Quite the coincidence, perhaps all is not what it seems? Indeed, the author behind Memoirs of a Master Forger is none other than Graham Joyce, who is apparently far more successful writing under the name William Heaney than under his real name. The book is currently only out in the UK, published by Gollancz. The US release was due out last year from Night Shade Books under the title How to Make Friends with Demons with Joyce listed as the author, but the date has been moved over and over and over again, so there is no telling when the actual release will be.

The novel is presented in first person past tense, which is about standard alongside third person past tense when it comes to writing so there is nothing really to say about that. I do know there are folks out there who dislike first person - I was once one of them - so I feel it is worth mentioning ahead of time. The book relies on a series of flashbacks to flesh out a pivotal change in the life of our narrator and I feel that they were mostly handled well. My sole problem with the use of them was Joyce's habit of ending a flashback at a critical point. I am aware that this builds suspense, but I am also keenly aware that doing so is akin to scheduling a commercial smack dab in the middle of the final few minutes of a television show.

The flashbacks are far from trivial, nor are they tacked on. I would hazard to say that they are just as important as the main narrative. There is one part of the novel that takes the reins from our dear William and hands them over to a journal entry from a secondary character by the name of Seamus. I have seen this in one other novel, The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, and was very unimpressed at how bad that turned out to be. Thankfully, Joyce did well in pulling off the journal entry and it turned out to be one of the more compelling parts of the novel and definitely the oddest.

There we are, my single negative balanced out. I think I might be a little too easy to please. Now, continuing on...

I finished Memoirs of a Master Forger and marked the occasion with several choice curses. The book had no problem at all drawing me into its depths and towards the end I found myself forced to tear away from the novel. I did not want the book to end and it came to the point that I noted each passing page with an increased sense of dread. I tore myself away more often in an attempt to savor what was left, but in the end there was nothing left to do except finish the book.

It was a very good novel, which is a bit of an understatement. Memoirs of a Master Forger is one of the best novels I have read this year, going so far as to slide itself above the previous reigning champion of my list: Shadow of the Wind. I loved the novel and have little doubt that I will be pulling it down from the shelf for another read soon. Memoirs is an extremely enjoyable novel and I whole-heartedly recommend it. There is no higher endorsement I can give.