In his previous two novels, Jonathan Buckley has brilliantly explored the workings of this country over the last few decades: in ‘Ghost MacIndoe’ he examined the extraordinary life of an ordinary man living in a London suburb; most recently, in ‘Invisible’, he showed us five disparate lives played out in a decaying hotel struggling to survive the BSE crisis. Now, in ‘So He Takes the Dog’, Buckley, in his best novel yet, unpicks the emotional subtleties, fears and prejudices and desires of the inhabitants of a town somewhere on the coast of the South of England in the aftermath of a brutal murder.
A dog, out for a walk on the beach, returns to its owner with a human hand in its mouth. The hand belongs to Henry, the homeless eccentric who has been wandering the south-west of England for the last thirty years, most recently living rough in the town. The local policeman and his accomplice, in piecing together his movements prior to his death, talking to those who knew and watched him, uncover an extraordinary life. But their investigations tellingly shed light on the town itself, and the story of Henry and those who tell it begins to affect the narrator-policeman’s own life in ways he never expected.
‘So He Takes the Dog’ is a detective story like no other, a novel that further confirms Jonathan Buckley as one of the finest novelists in this country at work today.
Reviews of So He Takes the Dog
Beautifully quiet novel. It’s rare for a contemporary novel to take such care, to defer to such reticence. “So He Takes the Dog” is a testament to the power of the modest, the gracefulness of the still.’ Guardian
‘For me, the power of “So He Takes The Dog” lies in its facility for recording physical quirks that reveal what is going on in people’s heads. If this were a traditional whodunit, the resolution would be frustrating but the melancholy, upside-down tale is so beautifully written that the ending is nothing of the kind. This is a hugely satisfying read.’ Daily Express
‘Buckley is expert at stringing together the tiny dramas of individual lives to make a narrative necklace.’ Daily Mail
‘Affecting, carefully crafted, quietly tumultuous. The elusiveness of our emotionally stunted sleuth is its greatest achievement.’ The Times Literary Supplement
‘Buckley is writing about people, about the fallout of violence and the dynamics of difficult relationships. This is a superbly understated story, one surprisingly difficult to shake off.’ Sunday Business Post