In his previous two novels, Jonathan Buckley has brilliantly explored the workings of this country over the last few decades: in ‘Ghost MacIndoe’ he examined the extraordinary life of an ordinary man living in a London suburb; most recently, in ‘Invisible’, he showed us five disparate lives played out in a decaying hotel struggling to survive the BSE crisis. Now, in ‘So He Takes the Dog’, Buckley, in his best novel yet, unpicks the emotional subtleties, fears and prejudices and desires of the inhabitants of a town somewhere on the coast of the South of England in the aftermath of a brutal murder.
A dog, out for a walk on the beach, returns to its owner with a human hand in its mouth. The hand belongs to Henry, the homeless eccentric who has been wandering the south-west of England for the last thirty years, most recently living rough in the town. The local policeman and his accomplice, in piecing together his movements prior to his death, talking to those who knew and watched him, uncover an extraordinary life. But their investigations tellingly shed light on the town itself, and the story of Henry and those who tell it begins to affect the narrator-policeman’s own life in ways he never expected.
‘So He Takes the Dog’ is a detective story like no other, a novel that further confirms Jonathan Buckley as one of the finest novelists in this country at work today.