Throw Me to the Wolves

Bloomsbury USA. Apr. 2019. 336p. ISBN 9781620401514. $27. M
A young girl is strangled on the banks of the Thames, her dismembered body stuffed in bin bags. The prime suspect is a former teacher at the elite Chapelton College. He's savaged in the press, as well as on social media. Ander, one of the detectives assigned to the case is an "old boy" of the college who remembers the teacher. The story unfolds in two strands, one detailing the media frenzy, the other with the detective's memories of his time at the school in the 1980s with its rampant bullying and political and social troubles. McGuinness settles on what might be the perfect metaphor for his grim portrait of British society, a fatberg, that sewer-blocking, congealed, pulsating body of greasy detritus wrapped around discarded personal hygiene items and garbage bags.
VERDICT Familiar plot elements are reinvigorated by McGuinness (a prize-winning poet and author of a previous novel, The Last Hundred Days, longlisted for the Man Booker Prize), his piercingly acute descriptions and telling sense of detail. This novel has the touch of a flayed poet about it, and that's meant in the best sense. [See Prepub Alert, 10/8/18.]
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