Reviews for The Trout


New York Times

October 5th 2017
“The charm of this novel lies in beautifully rendered observations of small, still

“The charm of this novel lies in beautifully rendered observations of small, still moments. Cunningham knows exactly how to cast line after line with a deftness and grace that summon the truth from the depths of the past up to the surface, at last.”

Craig Nova, award-winning author of The Good Son and The Informer

“…at once mesmerizing and beautiful.”

“There are writer’s writers, and then there are reader’s writers, and Peter Cunningham has the distinction of being both. The Trout is a keenly written, compulsively readable book, at once mesmerizing and beautiful.”

Publishers Weekly

“Thoughtful, exquisitely told”

“Thoughtful, exquisitely told . . . Cunningham spins several stories at once.”

Julia Keller, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Sorrow Road

“Slender in size but monumental in the memory”

"In language that is sharp and cool and lovely, Peter Cunningham tells a darkly captivating tale of childhood angst that sparks the long haunting of a man's life. It is, like his previous novels, a thing of eerie beauty, slender in size but monumental in the memory."

John Lescroart,New York Times bestselling author

“I simply loved it.”

“Subtle, powerful, and beautifully written, The Trout captivates from the first page and never lets up. This book provides rich, character-driven suspense of a very high order. I simply loved it."

Irish Independent

““The reader is never less than fascinated”

"Near the outset of Peter Cunningham’s new novel, you’re invited to “put yourself into the mind of a trout” living two fathoms down in a river and thinking only of survival. So what to do when a shadow suddenly appears above the water? “You sit it out. If you stay down here, the danger will disappear. You do nothing."

The Irish Daily Mail

“A perfect storm of a novel . . . The Trout is a film in waiting.”

“I read this book in two sittings. The strong characters, the excellent pacing, the sense of mystery, the undercurrent of menace and the beauty of the writing all come together to suck you in – in what is essentially a perfect storm of a novel.”

“This latest work from Peter Cunningham, pivots on how the past is never actually past and, in the exploration thrown up for the truth about that hinterland, the author raises many interesting questions about the nature of memory.

“The Trout – with its brief recurring fishing motif in each chapter – is, in essence, a thriller. Secrets lie buried, relationships suffer from damage or full-blown destruction, blame is strongly apportioned, lies are presented as gospel truth. The novel is set between Canada in recent years and Ireland, both recently and some 45 years earlier. The Canadian passages, particularly the opening descriptive scenes set in Ontario – in the lakeside home of the main protagonist, Alex Smyth – are beautiful in their lyrical quality and yet, at the same time, paint a very real picture of where we are and what is going on.”

“Alex Smyth, a teacher turned author, left Ireland decades ago and is long married to Kay, who had walked unexpectedly into his life at the most inappropriate time – on a beach in Tramore when he was still a boy-man. The relationship with Kay destroys the one he has with his father, an austere man who is the local doctor in Carrick-on-Suir. It is fitting that Alex’s father is generally referred to as ‘the doctor’ throughout, even by his son, now himself a man well past middle-age.”

“Alex has buried a secret deep inside himself – a secret that even he doesn’t fully understand and has certainly never confronted – and it is the arrival of a package with a fishing association that triggers in him the need to finally embark on his search for the truth. And in the unveiling of a long-ago abomination and its knock-on tragedy, a gripping story emerges where nothing is quite what it seems. Or is it? What does Alex’s childhood friend Sean Phelan really know? Is Larry White really a retired Canadian Mountie? And what about ‘the doctor’ – what is his role in all of this?”

“With terrific pacing, the story gradually unfolds until, in the end, the secret is out and all those trapped in that dark quagmire of memory are finally released into the light.”

“A great read. And cinematic in its telling.”

“The Trout is a film in waiting.”
Rosalyn Dee, Irish Daily Mail

The Irish Times

“A well-crafted crisply written, gripping story.”

“Like a trout returning across the ocean to breed in the river of its birth, Alex Smyth returns from Canada to Ireland to try to solve a childhood mystery. The eponymous fish is not merely metaphor; the plot hinges on dark events during fishing trips at night. The trout also inspires some of Cunningham’s finest descriptions: “the man with only the rod in his hand, his prey a thing of silver beauty in the water, the line of communication between man and fish as delicate as gossamer”.

“This is a well-crafted crisply written, gripping story, its readability enhanced by the brevity of its sentences and chapters. The initial section, set in Canada’s Ontario province, is outstanding; Alex and his wife Kay’s peaceful existence is threatened by a frightening incursion from the past. Later, in tying up loose ends, some of the carefully built tension is lost but Cunningham excels at interweaving the murky events of 40 years ago with Alex’s present-day search for reconciliation.”

Tom Moriarty
The Irish Times

Bord Gáis Energy Book Club

“Hooking the reader with immediately accessible characters,”

“Hooking the reader with immediately accessible characters, The Trout is a ‘read at one or two sittings’ story. The gentle familiarity of the characters deceives while several layers of tension are introduced. Memories, creeping from the past criss-cross with present anxieties. The result is a tangle of fear and uncertainty where just enough is said. Short, disciplined chapters and credible dialogue keep the pages turning and provide a pace to match this tension. The writing too is worth noting for the language itself which is well balanced with dialogue and narrative. For a moment, towards the finish it felt as if the writer had run out of steam and had decided to pull together the various strands in a lazy disinterested way but that too is a deception. I hadn’t previously read Peter Cunningham. I will again.”

The Sunday Times

“Cunningham’s engaging novel challenges us to create our own metaphors so we may, like the trout, raise our head above the surface towards truth.”

Dermot Bolger

“Peter Cunningham’s superbly crafted psychological thriller is a masterly study of a man whose life is turned upside-down by childhood secrets in an Ireland where evil could hide in plain sight. Packed with canny and uncanny insight, The Trout grows into a mesmerising read.”

Paul Lynch

Author of ‘Red Sky in the Morning’ and ‘Black Snow

“A poet walks through these pages weaving time past and time present into sadness and grace.”

Thomas McCarthy

“Only someone of Cunningham’s background and sensibility could have pulled off this narrative. The Trout is simply astonishing.”