Five minutes into reading an amusing but otherwise inoffensive passage from her latest novel The Blue Book, A L Kennedy watches with bemusement as someone stands up and leaves the RBS Main Theatre, complaining this was not what she expected.

Fortunately, the remainder of the crowd knew exactly what to expect: the pithy, humourous and often visceral style of writing which Kennedy delivered with aplomb at this Open University Event of the Edinburgh International Book Festival.

The Blue Book has a fake spiritualist medium as one of its central trio of characters, and this prompted a lively discussion about the ethics and dodgy practices of TV psychics and other charlatans. Having spent three years researching stage magic and cold reading techniques for the novel, Kennedy recounted the time she met Derren Brown (a ‘very smart’ and ‘very nice’ man, apparently).

Following another passage from the book, containing instructions and advice on how to conduct yourself when sitting alone in a coffee shop or restauarant, Kennedy took a few questions from the floor before taking her leave: and any powers of persuasion to read The Blue Book came from the quality of the writing itself, rather than any snakeoiled trickery.

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