cover image Tigerman


Nick Harkaway. Knopf, $26.95 (368p) ISBN 978-0-385-35241-3

All his tours of duty can’t prepare British army Sgt. Lester Ferris, a veteran of the War in Afghanistan, for life on an island facing certain ecological destruction, in Harkaway’s poignant morality tale, equally fueled by emotion and adrenaline. Though the fictional island of Mancreu, located somewhere in the Arabian sea, is no longer officially under the thumb of the British government—the Brits ceded control to an international peacekeeping force—Ferris is appointed brevet-consul, a largely ceremonial post that’s supposedly a last stop for him before he can leave army life behind for good. Mancreu is anything but an island paradise. Long exposed to harsh mining involving the island’s volcano, it’s a ticking time bomb, with the residents waiting for the next in a string of toxic events, known as “Clouds.” The sergeant’s only real friend, and surrogate son, is a comic-book-loving, Internet-slang-spouting teenage boy he calls Robin (think Batman), who helps him navigate Mancreu’s social and political intricacies. With a mishmash of countries all fighting for a piece of the island, either under the auspices of national pride or scientific experimentation, it’s no surprise that Mancreu has a thriving black market, operating out of a flotilla of ships moored just outside the harbor. The murder of one of Ferris’s acquaintances sets off a chain of increasingly violent events that coincide with an incoming Cloud, all of which threaten to destroy not only the bodies but the minds of Mancreu’s inhabitants. Harkaway (Angelmaker) adroitly explores the lengths one man will go to save what he’s come to love, even in the face of almost-certain failure. (July)