Magazine article The Spectator

'The Fountain in the Forest', by Tony White - Review

Magazine article The Spectator

'The Fountain in the Forest', by Tony White - Review

Article excerpt

Tony White's latest novel begins for all the world like a police procedural, following the delightfully named sleuth Rex King as he investigates the grisly murder of man in a Covent Garden theatre. Rex, who has a penchant for fish and chips, laments the tedium of police bureaucracy and frets over a cover-up relating to a death in custody.There is collegial bonhomie, conspiratorial winking and sardonic banter aplenty.

The novel then cuts away to an altogether different setting. In an obscure rural enclave in southern France in the mid-1980s, a young Englishman on his gap-year fraternises with a gang of charismatic dissidents in a bohemian commune. They debate postwar French history and the miners' strike, and bond over music: 'Punk or new wave was both a proxy and a crucible in and of itself [for] the discussion of ideas.'

Their discussions trace an eclectic collage of cultural memes, ranging from the French Revolutionary calendar and the 'Kilroy was here' tags daubed in myriad global locations by US servicemen, to cult 1980s bands like Crass and The Stranglers. The Fountain in the Forest is a slow-burner. White lulls the reader into absorbed bewilderment before weaving the strands together with all the deftness of a seasoned crime writer. …

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