Rory Brophy, an awkward teen, takes a leap off the overpass in his Irish village, hoping to end it all, but he lands instead in the back of a truck atop a load of satsumas. He winds up in Stockholm, quickly adapting himself to the hustle of the street. Dublin writer Lombard uses Rory's dislocation to spin droll tales about varied mythic characters in Rory's native town and abroad--including a dreamily demented girl, Julie Davitt, who inadvertently causes the corruption of a dashing politician, Cathal Callaghan. Then there's Inspector Throckmorton, who's in charge of finding the missing Rory, and perhaps the most poignant figure of them all, Rory's mother, who ceases her perennial preparation of dreadful rabbit stew to begin an obsessive hunt for her son, fearing something terrible has happened to him. ``Perhaps his body had been abused and then dumped somewhere, his skeleton to be found in the foetal position in years to come by a man walking his dog,'' recounts Rory's best friend, the narrator. Thus does Lombard's first novel proceed--from gentle humor to macabre observation. It doesn't quite hang together, but his deft command of high and low life draws the reader in. (Aug.)
Rory Brophy's disappearance is a mistake: he climbed up onto the flyover (i.e., highway overpass) over his village and jumped, but instead of falling beneath the wheels of a truck and being killed, he landed in the back of it on a mound of satsumas and ended up in Sweden. The narrator of this British import is a childhood friend who sets out to tell what happened to Rory but instead tells the story of humanity's search for identity in the fast-changing modern world. The narrator's voice is energetic and carries the reader through a story in which he points out things about life that are not funny while managing to be funny nonetheless. But what the reader will remember about the narrator's voice is its directness. This is conversational tone taken to an extreme: witness the novel's last lines, in which the narrator thanks the reader for reading and signs off with "May it always be Thursday for you," a reference the reader by now understands. The narrator will stay with readers long after they find out what happened to Rory Brophy.