One May evening in London, as a result of a chance encounter and a split-second decision, the young climatologist Adam Kindred loses everything - home, job, reputation, passport, credit cards, money - never to get them back. With the police and a hit man in merciless pursuit, Adam has no choice but to go underground, joining the ranks of the disappeared, struggling to understand how his life has unravelled so spectacularly. His journey of discovery will take him along the Thames from Chelsea to the sink estates of the East End. On the way he encounters aristocrats, priests, prostitutes and a policewoman - but will he ever find himself again?
Reviewed on 17th August 2013
I spotted this and picked it up cheaply after hearing that William Boyd would be the author of the next James Bond novel, and despite concern that it would be too literary for my tastes actually enjoyed it.
The story follows Adam, who accidentally stumbles across a murder scene and finds himself cast into the role of prime suspect. It's a captivating story that fits the metaphor of the book's title well.
The world Boyd paints is that of London with an excellent and contrasting portrayal of different aspects of life in the city. The characters are varied and rich, and although I most enjoyed the chapters spent with Adam, the other points of view were well fleshed out and really thrust the reader into their world.
One thing that didn't quite flow for me was the passage of time. Whether it's an effect of my reading style or the writing I'm not sure, but the book felt more like a narrative happening over a couple of days, whereas it's clearly meant to be months long.
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed reading this book, and am now looking forward to Boyd taking on Bond - the opening of this book especially reminded me of Ian Fleming's writing and I think Boyd has been an excellent choice. I'm sure I'll pick up more of his novels in the future too.