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‘A consummate performance…virtuoso’ Guardian

A fascinating, unusual and seductive historical novel by the bestselling author of The Long Firm.

In a Parisian restaurant, Aleister Crowley, the notorious occultist, chances on Major-General Sir Hector Macdonald: once one of the greatest heroes of the British Empire, now facing ruin in a shocking scandal – and vulnerable to Crowley’s curious offer of help. An extraordinary night of transgression and revelation ensues . . .

Probing beneath the surface of Victorian conformity, this is an enthralling tale of imperialism, sexuality and the nature of belief, which captures a world on the brink of a brutal new era.


Brilliantly expansive and original
<i>Daily Mirror</i>
A consummate performance...a virtuoso work of near history, with the occasional in-joke thrown in for good measure...immensely enjoyable
One of the many pleasures of this skilful book is the maintenance of suspense...Arnott does not ask us to choose between [Crowley and Macdonald] - but much of the moral force of this excellent book lies in his demonstration that there is, nonetheless, a choice to be made.
A great read, full of compassion, humour and riveting detail.
<i>Sunday Express</i>
Arnott's great leap forward...Macdonald's predicament is sympathetically examined and Crowley's monstrous drive is brilliantly rendered...it is his best [novel]
<i>The Herald</i>
Arnott is clearly having fun here...So to combine that with how the necessity to be good - to be a hero - can be as suffocating a pressure as battling with occultist demons makes The Devil's Paintbrush a fine book