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PJE

PJE

Contact

Contact - Jonathan Buckley Dominic Pattison is a successful, business-owning, fifty-something whose comfortable life is disrupted when he is approached by Sam, a builder and former soldier, who claims to be his son - allegedly the product of a long-forgotten affair Dominic had with a woman called Sarah thirty years ago. Foul-mouthed, unrefined and very un-middle-class, Sam becomes an ominous presence in Dominic's life. But is Sam's air of menace merely a product of our narrator's middle class dislike of the uncouth? Is his behaviour really threatening, or is he acting in a perfectly reasonable manner? Is he what he says he is, or is it a scam? And what does what we think, and why, tell us about ourselves? This is a fraught and compelling novel. It challenges attitudes yet is as much of a page turner as a Robert Goddard thriller and as unsettling as Ian McEwan used to be. Indeed, the echoes of Enduring Love are so strong that when at one point, while Sam is driving him to Sarah's grave, Dominic is distracted by the sight of an ascending hot air balloon, I couldn't help feeling I was being toyed with by the author in much the same way that Sam seems to toy with Dominic. A weak man desperately trying to keep the barbarian at the gate, is Dominic right to be cautious, or is he just prejudiced? And what is the contact of the title? Physical violence? The military engagements experienced by Sam in Northern Ireland and Iraq? Meetings between an estranged father and son? Or an unwelcome collision between the contented middle class and the uncouth working class they disdain - and fear? There is plenty for readers to think about (and discussion groups to get their teeth into) here. This is contemporary fiction at its best.