986, the last day of the summer holidays, and Christopher Hearsey is wondering why his best mate Arthur has suddenly disappeared, and whether lippy Gill Ross a few doors down might know anything about it. The border city of Carlisle is buzzing with rumours following an act of terrible violence, and in order to begin his search Chris must face down his own dread, not only of the consequences of his own actions, but of local big man Booby Grove, and his psychotic sidekick Carl ‘the black’ Hole.
Populated by a menacing and hilarious cast of characters, and moving from the dark aggrieved streets of the city to the agricultural hinterland of the Solway Firth, this is the story of a boy desperate to get out of town, out of a bad situation, even out of his own skin . . .
‘A fierce cry of talent, raw as a confession and tender as a poem. Polley’s language is mercurial, his humour quick and surprising.’ Chris Cleave
‘A perfectly pitched quest for lost innocence’ John Burnside, Guardian
‘This is a disconcerting debut novel about how meaning is constructed from murmur, gossip and half-truth . . . Capturing the chaotic rhythms of these young lives in vivid yet unsentimental prose, Polley hits the perfect pitch.’ Anita Sethi, Independent