Hardback by Ebury Press, £12.99 (ebook £4.35)
Following the thoughts of a goldfish plunging from the 27th floor of an apartment building is a sure way to grab a reader’s attention, but Bradley Somer’s second novel is much more than that gimmick. It focuses instead on the inhabitants, including an agoraphobic sex worker, a nymphomanic PhD student and an 11-year-old boy who thinks he can time travel.
When the lift breaks, the characters are forced into contact and their encounters are retold from each other’s perspective, insightfully inching separate plots forward.
Dancing from one storyline to the next ramps up the tension and Ian-the-goldfish’s plunge adds a continual line of cleverly built-up suspense. Although the novel’s internal time scale is just 30 minutes, Somer does an excellent job of sketching a collection of idiosyncratic yet widely plausible characters.
All of life, from birth to death, love to hate, is explored with sensitivity, humour and some whimsical musing on the nature of goldfish.