Reviewing The Quarry has been a sombre task. In April, Iain Banks announced that he was suffering from terminal cancer, so I read the book in the near certainty that this was his last novel; then came the news that he had died, hours before the first advance review, having asked his publishers to bring forward the release date in the hope of seeing the book on sale. It’s the sort of mean twist that puts you in mind of the words of Gloucester in King Lear, ‘as flies to wanton boys, are we to the gods,/They kill us for their sport’ – which ought to put Bankophiles in mind of the character of Frank in his first novel, The Wasp Factory, murdering wasps in the execution chamber that gives the book its title. As another unfunny irony, The Quarry, which Banks had almost finished when he received his diagnosis, is about a man with terminal cancer.
The book is narrated by 18-year-old Kit. ‘Weird, strange, odd’, he finds large groups of people unsettling, spends as much time as possible playing online games, and carefully strategises his shopping trips; it will seem obvious to many readers that Kit has Asperger’s. He lives with his father, Guy, who