From the Publisher:
This is a new masterpiece of fiction from J. G. Ballard which asks, could Consumerism turn into Fascism? Richard Pearson, a 42-year-old advertising executive is driving from central London to Brooklands, a town near the M25 on the western edge of the city. A few weeks earlier Richard’s father, a retired airline pilot, was fatally wounded during a shooting incident in the Metro-Centre – a vast shopping mall and sports complex, in the centre of Brooklands – when a deranged mental patient opened fire on a crowd of shoppers. It soon becomes clear to Richard that there was more to the incident than meets the eye. He senses that people are covering up what really happened. His suspicions are confirmed when the local mental patient arrested by police is released.
Pillars of the community, among them Dr Julia Goodwin a young doctor who treated his father after the shooting, testify that the patient was with them and could not have committed the crime. Richard resolves to track down the real killer. He realises that the Metro-Centre lies at the very heart of the mystery. Consumerism rules the lives of everyone in the motorway towns, but it is a form of consumerism that co-exists with an obsessive interest in sport and a perverted pride in English nationalism. Racist attacks on immigrant communities are widespread, and the sports meetings are virtually political rallies. Supporters clubs march through the streets, waving their flags and banners, waiting for a new leader to guide them to the promised land. The leader soon appears in an unexpected way. Richard, who has fallen in love with Julia Goodwin, learns the strange truth about his father’s death.