by Keith Gray


"Brook High is a great grey concrete ants' nest of a school," as John Malarkey, the protagonist and the new kid of Year 11 describes it. He's also the wrong person in the wrong place at the wrong time. First he is falsely accused of stealing teacher's wallet, which turns out to be a set-up for something bigger - stealing Year 11's report cards to sell to students. He only has one day to prove that he is innocent. Malarkey tries to find the people who did it, the students who are a part of the gang. They leave a trace - every one of them wears Adidas trainers - black with the three white stripes. He acknowledges that they are also responsible for fixed football matches, they threaten students, lead the homework club, even some teachers take the bribes. The more he knows, the more he is in danger ...

I think the book is truly interesting, very intense, it has an attractive content. It holds your attention till the end. I also think the events are logically connected, the book includes several various characters and it is also nicely concluded.

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Why the name Malarkey?

The word Malarkey is defined as something that has no meaning, nonsense, colloquially "bullshit".

But why did the author choose the name Malarkey?

As we know the gang in the book chooses Malarkey to take the fall for their acts. In the book it is said that is because he stands out, he is knew, he doesn't have his group of people who would protect him. So he is an outsider, somehow has no meaning in school. But that is just my opinion.


Keith Gray was born in Grimsby, England. He claims that at primary school he avoided books until he read Westall's The Machine Gunners. He soon began writing. At the age of 24, he published his first novel, Creepers (1996). Some other shortlisted and award-winning books are: The Runner, Warehouse (2002), Malarkey (2003), The Fearful (2005) and The Ostrich Boys (2008).

Keith Gray has also been a judge for some literary awards and he also writes reviews of teenage fiction for The Guardian and The Scotsman.

He was the first ever Virtual Writer in Residence for Scottish Book Trust in 2008 - he comissioned and edited short stories written by his favourite authors and produced creative writing videos to inspire young writers.

He lives in Edinburgh and says he writes books for the reluctant boy reader he was.


Here are some interesting videos about creative writing by Keith Gray:

Creative Writing Masterclass 1: Ideas & Inspiration
Creative Writing Masterclass 2: Characters
Creative Writing Masterclass 3: Plot
Creative Writing Masterclass 4: Setting
Creative Writing Masterclass 5: Redrafting


Did you read the book? Did you like it/ do you want to read it?

If you read the book:

  1. Which character did you find the most interesting? Why?
  2. Did you like the ending? Would you change anything?
  3. How would you react if you were in Malarkey's situation?