Magazine article The Spectator

Another Father Gone Missing

Magazine article The Spectator

Another Father Gone Missing

Article excerpt

UNKNOWN PLEASURES by Jason Cowley Faber, L9.99, pp. 256

It helps, when publishing a first novel, to have made a name for yourself in some other profession. Ann Widdecombe, no stranger to publicity, was off to a flying start with hers recently. Jason Cowley's name, though not a household one, is to be found above articles in the Times and other newspapers. His first novel is therefore guaranteed a leg-up in the press.

Written largely as a thriller, it is about a young lawyer from Toronto called Joshua. Needing a change of scene after a car crash in which two of his close friends were killed, and in the face of his mother's impending second marriage, he moves to London to take up a job at a leading City law firm. In order to be able to remarry, his mother has had to secure a legal ruling that her first husband, Joshua's father, is dead. This is not necessarily the case. He had disappeared without trace 12 years earlier when the family were living in England; at the time there had been no reason to suspect suicide. It is a mystery which Joshua, in coming to London, half hopes to solve.

For as long as I can remember I've been searching for my father in the gaps, omissions and ellipses of my mother's conversation, in her hesitations and sighs, in her laughter and verbal slips, in her unspoken questions, but above all in the troubled distance of her gaze.

This quest leads the somewhat foolhardy and occasionally naive young man into a series of bizarre adventures which take place in the seedier parts of King's Cross, in prosperous gangland Essex, on a flash yacht festooned with buddhas, and in staid Poole in Dorset. …

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