Romantic comedy featuring a middle-aged loner whose interest is toy trains.
An easy read where the main character visits the homes of the lonely and now-deceased. This is an unusual occupation for protagonists - or anyone who works for the council. His job is to try to find friends or family to inform them of the passing of someone who appears to have lost contact with other people. He also looks for money under the mattress to help pay for the funeral, which he arranges.
As a loner himself, this is what will happen to him when his time comes. He has lost contact with his sister and lives alone, the only company being the online model railway forums he is part of. However, he has created a wife and children in his head who he uses to excuse himself from being more social and to fit in with the norm.
The tragic figure stumbles his awkward way through life with a narrative that strains to be witty in the choice of similes. This eases off about half way through as the story takes hold proper. An unhappily married woman joins the department and has to shadow the protagonist. She is, of course, the exact opposite of the leading loner and he is immediately smitten.
The book looks at how feuds and snubs can lead to a lonely life and death, how isolation can cause disconnection with reality, and how simple lies can grow exponentially. These are the interesting parts. The thing that holds them together is a bumbling romance. Recommended.
Published by Orion on 27 June 2019. Advanced review copy supplied by the publisher.