The Fall Guy by James Lasdun review – a twisty, slick thriller

Deception and adultery among the rich and disgraced make for a gripping readWith its Occupy backdrop, The Fall Guy seems rooted less in America’s recent past than another, pre-Trump era. But global inequality isn’t really the focus; instead, it’s the skewed relationship between Matthew, the son of a Lloyd’s “name” who vanished with his clients’ money and family’s reputation, and his super-rich American cousin Charlie. Moreover, who is indebted to whom, and how, reveals itself only in the fullness of time – although from the moment that Matthew slips into Charlie’s (albeit empty) marital bed, we feel safe in assuming what’s on the horizon. But nothing is straightforward in this slick, Highsmithian thriller, and while the damaged Matthew’s capacity for self-deception is flagged early, Lasdun’s skill lies not least in letting us think that we might therefore have his number. Wrong – and yet the novel’s denouement feels fated ...