cover image Mall Time

Mall Time

Chaz Brenchley / Author Hodder & Stoughton $24.99 (320p) ISBN

An all-day telethon at the Meldon Centre, Europe's biggest mall, attracts huge crowds--and a lone gunman. Brenchley ( The Garden ) examines this catastrophic combination through the eyes of a wide range of Northern England's population: a teen couple, a TV cameraman, the Meldon Centre magnate himself, his wife, her lover, a band called Hot Ginger, a publicity flack in love with a radio shock jock, and the like. As these characters helplessly watch the well-planned carnival turn into the scene of random carnage, Brenchley often interpolates unexpectedly human and dramatic incidents. But too much depends on the gunman, whose sketchy motivations (bad parents, sexual repulsion/repression) are psychological cliches, and whenever the novel returns to this central character, the narrative stalls. While Brenchley shows courage in taking on headline horrors that supposedly resist fictional treatment, his slapdash portrayal of the ``lone nut'' character puts a decoy where a hot-blooded murderer should be. (Sept.)