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‘Not  long into a Steve Dearden story, I’m always a bit lost, bewildered almost. I mean in a good way – compelled not confused.  There’s a mystery I have to solve. Part of the mystery is in the meticulous unfolding of the story and the other part is the powerful force and density of his language; dense and then suddenly the language is very spare, oddly abstract, yet I always feel present in the physical event.  Enigmatic. I guess that’s the best word. I’m far away, third person far away, then I’m so close I can smell the breath coming at me off the page.  In a moment, the story can go violent, almost too violent, then sexy, really sexy, then funny. Not just funny, hilarious.  Strangely obsessive.  And very very smart. Wonderful moments of existential clarity. And then he breaks my heart. Bastard.’