The December in the book’s title is in 2007 when the world was on the brink of total financial collapse. And the machinations of those that caused that collapse, or some of them, feature strongly in the story. The antihero is the noisome, graceless billionaire John Veals, a hedge-fund trader of zero morality and an absolute ambition to go on making deals and to be even filthier rich.  He plans during the course of the book to bring a major UK bank, “Allied Royal Bank” (ARB) to its knees and to profit therefrom. He and a colourful cast of characters are to be guests at a dinner party given by a new Conservative MP, Lance Topping, and his wife Sophie. Also at the party (amongst others) will be the Leader of the Opposition, David Cameron in all but name; a pickle millionaire of Pakistani origins whose son is flirting with Islamic fundamentalism; a book reviewer  “RT Tranter” who is mischievous and suspicious; a Polish Premier league footballer and his blonde Russian mistress and a melancholy and unsuccessful Barrister Gabriel Northwood.

Woven into the story are themes that Faulks obviously feels illustrate the woes of modern Britain. Inequalities. Suicide. The obscene wealth of those who contribute little or nothing to society. The vulgarity of Reality Television. Recreational Drugs. Alcohol abuse. Internet porn… All feature at some point in the novel.  The wide gulf between those with education and talent – but little money and those with little education to speak of but untrammelled ambition to be rich and successful is cleverly illustrated. We are at times in a modern London based version of the “Bonfire of the Vanities” and at times in a thriller story about terrorism and the venal power of radical Islam. The cast also includes a female Tube train driver, an institutionalised schizophrenic, a grimy newspaper columnist and even the Prince of Wales!

” A Week in December” is a clever, well-researched and in the main credible depiction of the modern world – it is at times also very funny indeed. Faulks enjoys himself taking a pot shot at the trivial and the absurd – as well as the wicked and the dangerous. Sophie and her rich Holland Park friends all have at least £10 million in cash squirreled away to help them ride the storms ahead. And you know that whilst these storms will be rather fierce they will be alright – “it’s the rich wot gets the pleasure…” Meanwhile back in the real world in which most of us live there will be pain and suffering and calamity. But for John Veals and his like, those who hear the “whispers on the wind”, there will always be profits to be made.

Be Sociable, Share!