Barclay’s stock-in-trade is small-town America, the secrets behind the facade of respectability and the seemingly harmless vices that can lead his cast of characters down paths that are unforeseen.
The main character in The Accident is Glen Garber who shares similarities with Barclay’s previous protagonists. Garber works with his hands and runs a small, independent construction business.
He has been married for twelve years and has an eight year old daughter and leads a life of predictable normality until the day his wife dies in a car accident, drunk behind the wheel, in a place she should not have been.
The plot unfolds in the weeks that follow as the lives of friends and neighbours begin to unravel.
The backdrop is the recession, easy credit, sub-prime mortgages, skewed capitalism, the collapse of manufacturing in the west, cheap imports (legal and otherwise) and what ordinary people do to make ends meet.
In many ways, The Accident is a morality tale for our times.
If I have a criticism, it is that Barclay piles one plot too many on top of the the many twists and turns, but this is saved by the gentle humour he brings to the narrative.
A satisfying read and a four and a half star rating from me. Perhaps the perfect five next time.