Graham Urquhart and his daughter take a trip to the recycle bins. Instead of returning home, he steals a car and they take a drive around London. As he deals with the various demands of his precocious daughter and ruminates on his past and his present, it becomes increasingly clear that his future and that of his family is in doubt. Not only due to warfare on the domestic front. Something apocalyptic is in the air.
What begins with a mundane domestic argument ends in flight from a lion prowling in the middle of London Zoo. (Read revenge of the plastic lion?) Safety is found on an island in one of the animal enclosures …. or is it? The key lies in a sinister childhood reminiscence, located at the exact centre of the novella (nice touch).
The ending is as ambiguous as the body of the novella. Why are there no consequences to the car theft? What exactly is the father thinking when instead of rushing to safety, he determinedly pursues the opposite course? At what point does he / the action become unhinged?
The easy prose is belied by an insidious undercurrent. On turning the final page, I discover I’m further out to sea than expected. Not entirely lost, treading water. It will take a second reading to get me back to shore.