The Turnglass

By Gareth Rubin (Author)


Pub Date 1/7/2025

ISBN 9781454955979

Format Hardcover, Jacketed


This beautifully written, immersive, and unique crime story is a tête-bêche novel—two intertwined stories printed back-to-back. Open the book and the first novella begins. It ends in the middle of the book. Flip the book over, head to tail, and read the second story in the opposite direction. At the book’s core are two separate mysteries running across two different timelines, which are inextricably, forever linked.

1880s, Essex, England: Idealistic young doctor Simeon Lee is called from London to treat his ailing relative Parson Oliver Hawes, who lives in Turnglass House on a bleak island off the coast. Hawes believes he's being poisoned by his sister-in-law, Florence, who was declared mad years ago after killing the parson’s brother in a jealous rage. Hawes keeps her locked in a glass-walled apartment in the Turnglass library; the secret to how she came to be there is found in his tête-bêche journal, where one side tells a very different story from the other.

1930s, Hollywood: Celebrated author Oliver Tooke, the governor’s son, is found dead by apparent suicide. His aspiring actor friend Ken Kourian isn’t so sure Oliver took his own life. He finds a link between Oliver’s death and the mysterious kidnapping of Oliver’s brother when they were children. He also discovers the secret incarceration of Oliver’s mother, Florence, in an asylum. To get to the truth, Ken must decipher clues hidden in Oliver’s final book, a tête-bêche novel called The Turnglass—which is about a young doctor named Simeon Lee . . . 
The Turnglass is a bold, breathtaking piece of writing that absolutely nails its two books-in-one conceit. I doubt I’ll ever read anything like it again, which is the highest compliment I can offer.”—Stuart Turton, bestselling author of The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

“Not just a book, but an experience—one in which twists and turns are both on the page and in the very act of reading itself. Two haunting narratives conspire to create a dark, menacing tale that spans half a century of secrets as they echo back and forth—all while the sand slowly drains away. . . . This is a story about stories and their perspectives, the passage of time, and the slow march of the inevitable. Vivid, resonant, melancholy, and beautiful."—Janice Hallett, bestselling author of The Appeal

“A stunning, ingenious, truly immersive mystery. The Turnglass is a thrilling delight.”—Chris Whitaker, New York Times bestselling author of We Begin at the End

“Highly atmospheric and hectic searches for terrible truths. Rubin has pulled off the difficult trick of writing an ambitious novel that is also an easy, enjoyable read.”—The London Times, Crime Book of the Month

“An intricate and thoroughly mesmerizing tale of family plots and schemes across several generations.”—The Guardian [Best Thriller of the Year]

“Your initial amazement at his ingenuity comes to sit alongside an appreciation of the heart and depth he brings to his stories. A risky idea, beautifully executed.”—The Telegraph

“If immersive fiction is for you, you’ll adore this tête-bêche novel. . . . Expect two very different stories that magically come together.”—Belfast Telegraph

“A unique, deeply enjoyable read and I’m in awe of the plotting.”—The Express [Best Thriller of the Year]

“Murder, mystery and secrets combine to create a dazzling achievement that will hook you in.”—Best magazine

“Keeps you in suspense between two eras and two continents.”—Corriere della Sera [Italy, Top 10 Bestseller]

“The kind of book that its fans will keep coming back to, finding new treasures with every read. It is a puzzle that succeeds in its primary ambition: it puzzles.”— Vrye Weekblad [South Africa]


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Gareth Rubinwrites about social affairs, travel, and the arts for British newspapers. In 2013, he directed a documentary about therapeutic art at the Bethlem Royal Hospital in London (Bedlam). His books include The Great Cat Massacre, which details how the course of British history has been changed by people making mistakes; Liberation Square, a thriller set in Soviet-occupied London; and The Winter Agent, a thriller set in Paris in 1944. He lives in London.

Title Details

Pages 448 pages, b-w spot art throughout

Trim 6 x 9 x 0 Inches

Territories US/Can

Category Fiction