Haddon returns with a novel of such warmth, such humour, such insight into human frailty that it is destined to equal or even outdo the performance of CURIOUS INCIDENT.
A SPOT OF BOTHER begins with George Hall, a retired man in his sixties, finding a mark on his hip. He is at once convinced that he has skin cancer and, with death apparently just round the corner, begins acting oddly. His wife, Jean, is of course concerned, but she has other things on her mind: their daughter Katie announces that she is getting married to a man she and George do not wholly approve of, and Jean herself is carrying on an affair with a former work colleague of George's. The fourth member of the Hall family is Jamie, an estate agent, who is having problems committing himself to his boyfriend Tony.
It is hard to think of another writer whose lines are simultaneously laugh-out-loud funny, achingly poignant and deeply horrifying. And few authors demonstrate such unashamed love for their damaged characters - a love made meaningful by a penetrating understanding of the human part of human folly. A Spot of Bother is another triumph for Mark Haddon - part family farce, part clear-eyed presentation of mental illness, part novel of manners, but inimitably in his own fantastic, familiar voice.