King of the Badgers, By Philip Hensher


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The Independent Culture

The fictional North Devon town of Hanmouth is the setting for Hensher's latest prowl around provincial England, a backwater he explores like "an anthropologist might go among the Kikuyu".

Underpinning the novel's many subplots is the story of the abduction of eight-year old China, whose disappearance give us the excuse to pry behind closed doors.

The vast cast includes teenaged Hattie and her collection of dolls, and Gay Sam who runs the cheese shop.

Hensher's victims come under forensic scrutiny – much of it not benevolent.