THE SUMMER BOY by Don Bannister


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British writer Bannister (Sam Chard; Long Day at Shiloh; Burning Leaves) has written a funny, engaging novel about a young reporter in a small Yorkshire town who attempts to expose a powerful cabal of builders and local politicians and finds that muckraking isn't all it's cracked up to be. The most fascinating thing about Martin Morley is the brash tightrope walk he performs throughout The Summer Boy; it's fun to watch the certainty with which he regains his balance time and again, blithely unaware of just how precarious his position really is. Martin, age 20, is an ambitious cub reporter for his hometown newspaper, the Weekly Sentinel Tired of interviewing grieving widows and drooling centenarians, he seizes the chance to write a feature article on the new shopping center being planned for the outskirts of town. But instead of doing the expected puff piece, he snoops around, in the best Woodward and Bernstein tradition, and discovers that the proposed site of the mall has been fixed ahead of time by a cozy, profiteering group of borough council members and businessmen. That, of course, is an old story. What's new is Martin's bright energy and indefatigable innocence (at one point, a powerful developer plies him with whiskey before offering him a plum job; to the man's great consternation, the drunken Martin doesn't even realize he's being bribed). But the powers-that-be are finally too much for Martin--his own editor kills the expos‚ lest it cost the Sentinel advertising and Martin is sent back to covering garden parties. Still, his spirit remains. At the close of the novel, he picks a fight in a pub and decides to pretend to his estranged girlfriend that he's been beaten up over his attempts to expose corruption. ""Most likely,"" he thinks to himself, ""she has a soft spot for martyrs."" A strong and loving portrait of a not-so-angry-young-man trying to make his way in modern-day Great Britain. For once, the reader hopes for a sequel.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1985
Publisher: William Heinemann--dist. by David & Charles