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King of the Badgers: Book review

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King of the Badgers: Book review

Post by ROSA on 29.06.11 23:35

In the fictional Devonshire town of Hanmouth where nothing much happens, a lot is happening. Philip Hensher's new novel, King Of The Badgers, takes the reader behind the net curtains of the town's quaint cottages, peeking into their secret lives and uncovering sinful desires, suburban sex parties and a truly disturbing crime.

The village sits at the mouth of an estuary, and it's a constantly menacing milieu; a sticky, tricky wetland that traps any careless tourists trying to cross it. Its yawning presence at the edge of the town is a reminder of a wild and hungry oblivion at the town's boundaries.

The story opens during the disappearance of a local girl, China, and the abduction (which draws obvious parallels with the Madeleine McCann case) brings hoards of media, and yet more cameras and scrutiny, to the sleepy village.

The residents of Hanmouth are constantly observed: by the unblinking gaze of the town's army of CCTV cameras; by a slightly sinister Neighbourhood Watch committee; and, as Hensher reminds us, by the reader greedily turning the pages of his book.

In one fantastic chapter, 'The Omniscient Narrator Speaks', we follow a character's journey across the town entirely through the dead stare of the CCTV cameras, until a shocking secret is revealed behind the closed door of his final destination.

"The cameras in the street could not have told the secrets of the human heart," Hensher writes. The cameras could not see what unfolded behind that door, "But you did, and I did".

It's an uncomfortable but interesting tension, reminding the reader that our lustful desire for the salacious plays a central role in the erosion of privacy in the media age.


There's a slightly schizophrenic approach to the narrative arc, as the story lurches between stories and characters. Just as you become accustomed to the unfolding mystery of the missing girl, we're introduced to sad, lonely David, and the novel veers down an otherwise unexplored path.

Some of the residents are more thoroughly dissected than others, and there are some tantalising loose ends left dangling. But it's a big, sprawling soap opera of a book filled with engaging characters in fascinating situations who, for all their flaws (which we're endlessly privy to), I missed when I turned the final page.
http://tvnz.co.nz/lifestyle-news/king-badgers-book-review-4276706

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Re: King of the Badgers: Book review

Post by ufercoffy on 30.06.11 9:12

The story opens during the disappearance of a local girl, China, and the abduction (which draws obvious parallels with the Madeleine McCann case) brings hoards of media, and yet more cameras and scrutiny, to the sleepy village.

Obvious parallels.....obvious success....obvious money......Madeleine will continue to be a marketing ploy for many people now.....forever.

Everything is linked to Madeleine. Everybody links to Madeleine to make money.

That is Madeleine's legacy. She has been reduced from a beautiful, innocent, little girl with her whole life ahead of her.... to nothing but a cash cow.

A dead cash cow whose name will live on for people to use, as and when they see fit, to become rich and famous while she herself lays undiscovered somewhere, possibly in an unmarked grave....No voice, no life, no future, no justice.

And all because of her own parents.

puke


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Truth can be stranger than fiction

Post by Marian on 30.06.11 9:43

One of my favourite programmes is Law and Order (not the British spin-off, oh dear!) and they have done a couple of stories which would have been dismissed as too far fetched for words if they hadn't clearly been based on Michael Jackson! I suspect that it won't be long before the same thing happens with Madeleine. Maybe it already has, thinking of how long it takes for the Law & Order franchise to be shown on terrestrial television.

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Re: King of the Badgers: Book review

Post by lj on 30.06.11 14:37

@Marian wrote:One of my favourite programmes is Law and Order (not the British spin-off, oh dear!) and they have done a couple of stories which would have been dismissed as too far fetched for words if they hadn't clearly been based on Michael Jackson! I suspect that it won't be long before the same thing happens with Madeleine. Maybe it already has, thinking of how long it takes for the Law & Order franchise to be shown on terrestrial television.

There was one, shortly after they fled back to the UK, where the parents turned out to hide the body after an accident. I forgot the details sadly.

Senior time.

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