In his new novel, Adam Thorpe has created something that carries hints of An Inspector Calls. We encounter a young innocent, Fay, aged fourteen, who goes missing from the bleak Lincolnshire council estate where she lives with her mentally unstable mother and her feckless, perma-stoned stepfather. We also meet a group of more socially established individuals whose lives she has touched in some way. And we shift between different people’s stories as the novel goes on, seeing things (and seeing Fay) from a number of points of view.
But it’s all much less direct, and therefore more intriguing, than Priestley’s play. What we do not have is a simple tale of innocence destroyed by rapacious greed and thoughtlessness, or anything as lumpen as a moral. Instead, Missing Fay is a book of lives, with Fay in the kind of