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Tigerman by Nick Harkaway

July 21, 2014
tigermanOne of my favorite authors has a new book coming out!!!! Tuesday, July 29 Tigerman will be available to US readers. It’s lovely. I read it a couple of months ago because working at a bookstore means I’m special and I can do things like that. This is Harkaway’s third novel and while it has some themes in common with Angelmaker and Gone Away World it is very much its own story.
Tigerman focuses on a British soldier, Lester Ferris, who has severe battle fatigue after years fighting the battles of the United Kingdom. His post as the official representative of Her Majesty’s government on the island of Mancreu was meant to be a bit of a vacation until he could retire. A vacation on an island that occasionally belches out mutagenic clouds of gas and is slated to be destroyed by a nuclear weapon whenever the governments of the world get around to signing the paperwork. There’s also the fleet of ships docked in Mancreu’s bay. The island itself is in a very tricky legal state. No government officially claims Mancreu anymore, although there are international peackeeping forces stationed there to oversee the evacuation. The waters around the island, however, belong to no one. They have no law, no oversight, and no rules. The ships docked around Mancreu are there to take advantage of that. They are full of spies, black market organ transplants, and much, much worse.
Lester is there to be present, but not to react. To look, but never to see. He spends most of his time discussing comics with a young boy who lives on the island and taking tea at a local shop. Lester hardly dares to think about the days after the island when he might adopt the boy and live somewhere that isn’t an international environmental disaster.
That all begins to change when the shop owner is murdered. The fleet is starting to break the unspoken rule of non-interference and Lester’s world is falling apart. To help save it, and most importantly to help the boy feel safe Lester will  become something more than a soldier. He will become a comic book hero. He will become the Tigerman.
This book, more than either of Harkaway’s previous novels, is about love. What love will allow you to do in its name. What you can become for the sake of someone you love. It’s flashy, and brightly colored, and often a little silly, but there are moments of heartbreak and moments of pure joy. There are so many different threads of love weaving in and out through this story that it almost seems like they could hold the island together all on their own.
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