It is 1981 and Detective Inspector Henry Hobbes is still reeling in the aftermath of the fire and fury of the Brixton riots. The battle lines of society – and the police force – are being redrawn on a daily basis.
With the certainties of his life already sorely tested, a brutal murder will shake his beliefs to their very core once more. The manner of the death and its staged circumstances pose many questions to which there are no obvious answers.
To track the murderer, Hobbes must cross boundaries into a subculture hidden beneath the everyday world he thought he knew. His investigation takes him into a twisted reality, which is both seductive and devastating, and asks him the one question he has been dreading: How far will he go in pursuit of the truth?
I’m a fan of this author after the quirky mind blowing Nyquist novels, this time he enters the world of more grounded mystery but still that noir feel and off kilter sense remains. I loved this.
The setting is evocative, in the time of the Brixton riots, when the police were objects of suspicion, casual racism was rife and Thatcher was in her prime. Into this comes Henry Hobbes, already at odds with the world he lives in, ahead of his time in many ways. A shocking murder will test his will and nothing about it is quite as it seems…
The whole novel has an edgy, melancholy feel to it, it is as twisted as you could ask for in it’s plot and there is a haunting sense of authenticity throughout. The power of celebrity and the mythology that can surround some of life’s enigmatic characters is a strong theme here, one that absorbs our main protagonist into a world beneath the one he knows and one that is just as seductive to the reader as it is to Henry Hobbes.
Jeff Noon captures a sense of that era with gorgeous immersive writing and strongly built fascinating characters, then defies the usual crime novel tropes and goes entirely in his own direction. This is not a whodunit so much as it is an exploration of the human psyche and it is both sad and kind of beautiful at the same time.
Unpredictable and very very clever.