Harold Absalon, the Mayor’s Transport Advisor, has gone missing. Down-at-heel detective Marguerite is trying to find him. Aware that his every action is being monitored by those reading the novel, Marguerite’s mind and world is at constant risk of disintegration. Disturbed by attempts to understand himself and the nature of the objects he encounters, Marguerite’s minute and comically digressive inquiries threaten his very existence.
As he follows and then is followed by Harold’s wife Isobel around the city, Marguerite discovers startling evidence of her involvement in the disappearance and becomes increasingly compromised by his feelings for her. Finding himself cornered by Isobel on a speeding bus, it emerges that Marguerite may be more closely implicated than we think. The resolution of the case brings a discovery that will shatter his world and well-being forever.
Whatever Happened to Harold Absalon? is a unique take on the world of category, cliché and identity and heralds the emergence of a truly original new voice.
‘I love your novel... It's very bold ... experimental but accessible.’ —Nicholas Royle
‘You embark on this book expecting a certain fictional route, then notice the author has taken a wrong turning, then another... Do you jump off, or stay on and enjoy the slow-motion ride and new perspectives? Okotie here takes the art of digression to a new, surprising and witty level.’ —David Rose
‘... charming and fresh; indeed, the only recent comparable fiction would be Will Self’s Booker-shortlisted Umbrella, which also features a prolonged, digressive sequence set on a London bus. Simon Okotie’s book will receive less attention, but it is equally audacious, and in its own, low-key way, just as compelling.’ —David Evans
‘Okotie’s protagonist, Marguerite, is an investigator (of some kind) charged (by someone) with following the wife of Harold Absalon after the disappearance (perhaps) of her husband. Hardly a nail-biting procedural, the action such as it is goes no further than up and down in an elevator and onto a bus—a timespan of a few minutes, at most. It’s a marvel of compression, not in the manner of Jean Echenoz and others who strip the detective novel down to its bones, but by taking a few minor, even meaningless moments of a larger investigation and exploding them to the point of rewarding absurdity.’ —Necessary Fiction