Tom Campbell’s second novel draws for us a map of London. It is a sprawling, unpredictable web, running on cocaine, staffed by escorts and observed from corporate football boxes.
James is a town planner; a pragmatist and a moderate success in local government. By any reasonable metric he is set for a happy life. But, in the context of the city and his conspicuously wealthy former classmates, he is a lamentable underachiever. Under the auspices of Felix, a self-appointed mentor and lifestyle guru, James is steered into the underbelly of the city he thought he knew.
The Planner is a familiar story of a rational bloke, outstripped socially and professionally by hedonistic friends whose gratuitous lifestyles should have earned some kind of comeuppance. London is comically framed through the eyes of this ordinary man and resists order, morality and good economic sense. And therein lies the injustice, but also the thrill, of modern urban living.
The Planner, by Tom Campbell, Bloomsbury Circus, RRP£12.99, 304 pages