King Of The Badgers by Philip Hensher (Fourth Estate)
IN a quiet picturesque seaside down in Devon, an eight year old girl disappears and the media hordes swoop westwards looking for a sensational headline or two.
But King Of The Badgers is not a crime thriller, not a whodunnit, instead the author lifts the lid on middle class respectability and carries out a forensic investigation into what lies below the surface.
This is a relentless probe into snobbery, bitchiness and sexual excesses.
Indeed for much of the book, the plight of the girl is completely overlooked. Hensher is more concerned about bitching about the bitchers. Or in some cases the bears, gay men who visit Hanmouth regularly for sex parties at the home of a local shopkeeper. This section includes a particular graphic description of an orgy which is not for the faint-hearted.
This book has received critical acclaim, particularly from the broadsheet newspapers, but I felt at times it wallowed in being unpleasant about unpleasant people.
Hensher’s 2008 book The North Clemency was a finalist for the Man Booker Prize so he is evidently a favourite of the chattering classes.