What redeems this book is the hero's moments of vulnerability. The moment he looks at the road beneath the wheels of his motorbike and worries about whether the engine will seize up and fling him off. There is a beautiful depiction of his relationship with his son, who lives with his mother, the hero's divorced wife. When Mills is writing about the hero's relationship with his son, or with his ex-wife, there are moments of tenderness and reality. This was entrancing writing which deserved to be in the foreground, rather than serving a slightly unconvincing plot.
Even when this plot gets going it burns slowly. Ben is drawn into the world of the super-rich. There are hints that all is not as it seems. The main story is interspersed with flashbacks to the two boys at a rather feral prep school; these also suggest that the apparent friendliness of 'Victor' (ex-Jacob) might have ulterior motives. But development of these ideas is left very late and the denouement, when it arrives, is rushed. In the end I didn't believe that Victor, with all he had to lose, should seek out Ben.
But there were some great lines:
- "the creeping caution that comes with age, the same anxiety that had rendered his parents all but housebound." (p 22)
- "When you boil it back to the bones, what else is there? ... Just death, and the foolish hope we can somehow cheat it."(p 54)
- "Ben knew he had spoken - he had felt his jaw move - but it was as if the word had been uttered by another." (p 99)
- "Plato was right when he said an old man may become twice a child, but I don't see there's any earthly reason why he shouldn't be a good child - polite, intelligent, considerate." (p 352)
Overall a good read but the wonderful human interest story was inappropriately shackled to the shallow thriller format. February 2018; 453 pages