It's a few years since I read (and re-read) this book, but such was the effect of the novel, that I'm straight back in my mind to the bustling market and Victor's gleaming office.
I love the way that Jim Crace can invent a place and time for his characters, especially in the earlier works like this, which is recognizably of this world but tantalizingly different. It gives him room to explore his themes more freely but without losing the feeling of it being 'grounded'. I find myself trying to 'place' it and 'time' it ( - if this is real place when was all it happening?) before giving in and just enjoying the plot and, for example, the loving depiction of the market and the luxurious descriptions of the (sometimes invented) fruit.
I also like the rhythm of the prose: it is hypnotic and persuasive. With Crace I sometimes catch myself reading the sentences as if they were written as iambic pentameters, and the effect can be quite beautiful.
I guess that to write such poetic prose for a young novelist must have been quite brave, but for me it works, and this particular opening led me to the delights of the earlier stories and his later novels.