347pp. White Rabbit. 18.99 [pounds sterling].
It is amazing who Alan Warner can have you rooting for. His latest hero is Crofton Clark, a man who really ought not to be left in charge of anything. Crofton occupies "the annoyingly vague position of The Help at Kitchenly Mill Race", an architectural oddity on the Sussex Downs owned by a largely absent rock star called Marko Morrell. It is the late 1970s and Marko's band --the perfectly named Fear Taker--have made millions. But new wave and punk are now taking over.
An oddball butler, his duties ill-defined, Crofton has a knack for confecting all sorts of jobs for himself. There is a great deal of discussion about the opening and closing of curtains: "does one draw [them] on such a habitation nightly? Or do you leave the cool back glass exposed to the blank eye of night?" He spends much time checking on gates; unbidden, he constructs a traffic barrier in an indoor corridor to...