Five Minute Fiction

Learn everything you need to know about a new book each week without even having to bother reading it. Ex-bookseller, publisher and writer Iain Martin leads you through the terrifying world of contemporary fiction from deep within the imposing Bookface Tower.
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Books. We've all read them, but are they any good?

Sep 15, 2015
13. The Things They Carried

It's show number thirteen. How about that? To celebrate hitting this dizzying number of podcasts, we have a devastatingly powerful book to discuss this week. We have a brief skirmish in the studio as the cats (who used to be Will Self) go for each other in the background. But this too is mere foreshadowing of another confrontation brewing, after which nothing will ever be the same again... 

Sep 8, 2015
12. London Falling

In the week of publication for his new novel, Witches of Lychford, I have finally got to grips with London Falling, the first book in Paul Cornell's fantasy crime series The Shadow Police. Those of you who want to hear my thoughts on it would be well advised to listen to this podcast. 

Others out there only listen to the show to hear the latest bursts of Buddha-like wisdom from my caged intellectual, Richard Dawkins, and he's on good form this week. Similarly we celebrate the return to the studio of celebrated thespian Bryce D'Abo whose velvety tones bring our FREE AUDIOBOOK to life each week.

The schedule is filling up nicely now with some big books for Autumn so in the coming weeks there will be big, big books under my whimsical and capricious gaze. Join me, book fans, oh please, please join me...

Aug 31, 2015
11. Pilcrow

It's blastage from the pastage this week as we delve into the dusty bookshelves of yesterwhen and pluck out a classic of the modern era which has somehow managed to avoid every prize going, and exists in an utterly undeserved obscurity. Come join me to hear about one of literature's weakest characters.

In other news, Deep Words is blessed this week as Dawkins (our resident thinker) is getting decidedly chatty so I think we're all going to have our minds stretched and improved.

Join us next week for more of the same, and if you'd like me to bring you back any nuts from my trip to Beirut then let me know. Their wasabi cashews are to die for. Just FYI....

Aug 25, 2015
10. The Debt To Pleasure

Welcome to show #10. This week I'm dipping back into the glorious canon of an author's backlist, and talking about a book first published in 1996. Now, I was a young, silly man then, and still didn't work with books so I missed this one at the time. What do I remember from 1996? I very much enjoyed David Baddiel's Time For Bed and the curio which was Night Train by Martin Amis. Horrifically I realise this is as near as dammit to being twenty years ago. Days in pubs, and Euro '96 and the Pistols reforming in Finsbury Park...
     Remembrances of things past are often warm and delightful, unless you're Tarquin Winot regaling the reader with your increasingly unsettling life story over a delicious luncheon. Which, by a staggering coincidence, is the main course served up for you in this week's podcast, which, as always, I hope you enjoy, and if not please tell Chef. 

Aug 18, 2015
09. Pictures Or It Didn't Happen

This week we consider a deliberately slim volume from crime-writer and doyenne of psychological thrillers, Sophie Hannah.

Writing for Quick Reads must be an interesting brief for an author: "we want you at the top of your game, doing what you do best, but you've only got around 30-35,000 words to play with because we need these books to be short".

So does the format work and can we have fun in such a tiny novella? Let me investigate.

In other news, the next two books to feature have been recommended by listeners, so why not add your favourite book to my pile? tweet me your suggestions @theiainmartin or visit me at

Aug 11, 2015
08. The Wallcreeper

Breathless, twitching, feverish and on fire, I finished this book and raced to record how good I thought it was, for your edification. You're welcome.

On the way I adopted a new author for the Deep Words Vivarium and managed to use the word "monogamic" - if I'd tried two takes I might not have been reduced to drivelling out this kind of embarrassing word-based slurry. I'm sorry. And I feel quite stupid.

If you're in Edinburgh, by the way, check out Bryce D'Abo's new show, "Always The Twain".

Laters, potaters.

Aug 4, 2015
07. The Secret Adversary

In episode seven we snuggle up with a crime novel written almost a century ago, but which, in an unusual feat of timey-wimeyness was in fact televised over the last couple of weekends. The TV adaptation, while enjoyable, differed hugely from the book, probably as a way of bringing humour to the lead actor's role to ease him in. I'm not sure of the extent that the story differed, but on the strength of part one it seems quite a bit. I wonder why? TV execs, eh? Bless them.What else is going on this week? The Man Booker Prize longlist was announced, and left me cold. As a former bookseller, I would have liked to see a couple of commercial choices or big names, while the writer in me is glad to see it's probably all about the quality of the writing this year. Anyway, herewith my witter...

Jul 28, 2015
06. R.I.P.

Well, I never imagined I'd be sharing my abiding love for Nigel Williams with the world from a delightful hotel on the fringes of New Cairo but that is the state of play this morning. If you haven't heard of Williams, he's generally reviewed and regarded as "Britain's premier farceur" or "The new P.G. Wodehouse" or even just "this chap who's been been banging out some consistently great comic fiction for about forty years now". He reached his creative peak in the 1990's but took a decade off from prose after 2003, and has returned with two hugely entertaining novels in the last three years.

Meanwhile, also in this week's episode, we unveil our new "voice of the Spoken Word" and things look a bit off-putting in the vivarium of Will Self's Deep Words. Enjoy it, folks, now I need to get up and find some coffee...

Jul 21, 2015
05. Seventy-Seven Clocks

Meet the hilariously abhorrent Whitstable family; but don't make any close friends because one by one they are being bumped off. It's a new case for Bryant and May of the Met's Peculiar Crimes Unit, two irascible codgers with rare skills and lateral thinking who alone can hope to solve a baffling series of murders. Yes, this week we're catching up with the work of Christopher Fowler. If you already love his books then you know what you're in for. If you're yet to have the pleasure, shame on you. SHAME. Come listen, friends. 

Jul 14, 2015
04. The Dust That Falls From Dreams

So there's no easy way to dress this up, but this week's review does contain a spoiler that some of you might rather avoid. I'm reviewing the new novel from Louis deBernieres and while I try my bestest to keep off the grass (by which I mean "plot") this week I do stray onto the verge (by which I mean "give away a significant plot-point"). What can I say? I'm a fool. Read the book first then come back and hear my breathless, wide-eyed enthusicast when the spoiler won't ruin your experience. Or, if you weren't going to read it, then no worries. I only bought the eBook so for all I know they give away the bit I spoil on the very back cover. Who knows? Not me. Um. Anyhoo.

Jul 7, 2015
03. The Spider In the Corner of the Room

Here's fun! This week's book is a fast-paced plot-driven thriller which you'll race through in no time at all, mouth hanging open, tongue out, your brain on electrified  tenterhooks. Be careful not to let a bit of dribble come out, especially if you're on a crowded commuter train, as people may judge you and no-one likes the thought of doing a day's work in clothes damp with saliva, even if it is your own. Trains eh? Commuting? It's less fun now that everyone has Kindles and you can't see what they're all reading. I imagine most are getting in a quick twenty pages of Grey before the day truly begins, but you never know - see that rodenty-looking guy in the corner in the nasty suit? I'll bet you a tenner he's reading something horrible about drills or knives...

Jun 30, 2015
02. Holy Cow

This week's book is the new(ish) novel Holy Cow by Fox Mulder David Duchovny, who is reinventing himself as a writer singer and all-round renaissance man in order to divert our attention from the hard truth that, with The X-Files back in production, he might spend the rest of his life chasing little grey men infused with the black oil and hanging out with Gillian Anderson all the time.

Tough gig, that. I don't envy him at all.

Jun 23, 2015
01. Francis Plug - How To Be A Public Author

Welcome, my descamisados, to the first episode of my new books podcast. All things bookular will be discussed, and in each week's little show I try to give you my opinions on a novel that I've literally just finished reading. This week I'm reviewing Francis Plug - How To Be A Public Author by Paul Ewen, which is available in all good bookshops. If you like the podcast, come back next week, there'll be another one. 

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