SPLASH! is a novel about journalism and journalists.
Our hero ,Sam Blunt, is a hack of the old school, who spends far too much time drinking, and who works for the Daily Bugle, the circulation of which is declining, though it has, in its basement, a very successful online operation that deals mainly with scantily clad Z-list celebrities.
The editor of the Bugle, Eric Doodle, is feeling the pressure from above as his owner, Sir Edwin Entwhistle, is plotting to selling the Bugle to a Chinese oligarch; as well as pressure from below, as his deputy, Trevor Yapp, who runs Bugle Online, plots to get his job. Ably assisted by a newcomer, Benedict Brewster, Sam scents a great story that will have a life-changing effect on all connected to the paper, as well as a wide range of other characters, including a society hostess, the proprietor’s wife, an Anglican bishop, and, perhaps above all, the African refugee who cleans the Bugle offices.
The twists and turns of the plot, which will keep the reader turning the pages swiftly, provide for some very funny set pieces, and keep us guessing to the end. But this is not just a comedy, and Stephen Glover does not play things exclusively for laughs. At the heart of the book there is great seriousness, and some pathos.
The Britain shown is clearly a country in serious decline; the verdict that this is so comes from an unusual source, and is all the more dramatic for that. In addition, in our midst, though we may be too selfish to notice it, are those who are suffering greatly, and it is these characters who emerge as the most memorable in the novel.
Splash! is a brilliant book, a comedy with a serious and thought-provoking moral for us all.
Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith is a Roman Catholic priest, doctor of moral theology, and consulting editor of The Catholic Herald.
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