Lester Ferris is nearly forty, ‘fatigued and even a little lost’, a British army sergeant serving as brevet-consul on the island of Mancreu. It’s a fictional place, ‘a first-and-last isle perched … midway between Socotra and the Chagos Islands’. He spends quiet days at his friend Shola’s tea shop in the company of a comic-obsessed boy who dubs himself ‘Robin’. The details of the boy’s parentage and home are mysteries to Lester; the boy becomes ‘politely deaf when quizzed’. But Lester takes a shine to him and realises he wants to rescue him from Mancreu, when the time comes.
Come it will, and in an extraordinary way. Nick Harkaway’s fiction is peppered with the speculative. In The Gone-Away World and Angelmaker, it was monstrous bombs and fantastical clockwork devices respectively. In Tigerman,