Eighth novel but only second US appearance for British writer Nicholson (Hunters and Gatherers, 1994): a darkly comic cornucopia set in a mythic London department store--gigantic and posh. The book's structure mirrors that of the sprawling, opulent store as we're taken through each of the nine floors--plus the many hidden rooms, subfloors, and secret corridors--and introduced to the over-the-top characters who inhabit Haden Brothers. There's the last of the brothers, Arnold, a recluse who keeps to himself in the store's penthouse, emerging only to ravish young shopgirls; then there are the anarchist porters who try to bring Haden Brothers to its knees; the perfect saleswoman whom everyone else hates; the apolitical, amoral, spineless artist who's there only because he can't seem to find a suitable artistic field--and who, while he contemplates searching for the right creative outlet, is being wooed by the anarchists as well as by the forces of consumerism within the store itself. Throw in a blind elevator attendant who can smell the goings-on in every corner; a kleptomaniac shopgirl; the fear of terrorism; and the ghostly presence of the architect who designed secret chambers for himself within Haden Brothers, and you have the usual Nicholson madcap, page-turning plot. But also, as usual, the author's crafty structural maneuverings are an excuse to probe deep into complex societal issues, here aiming right at the heart of conspicuous consumption, spinning off wicked takes on power and sex, longing and gratification, creativity and political engagement. Nicholson, the genius behind this commercial Tower of Babel, is both a master of large, complex, convoluted structures--and a comic satirist of biting precision.