A masterpiece of fiction from J. G. Ballard which asks, could consumerism turn into Facism?
Richard Pearson, unemployed advertising executive and life-long rebel, is driving out to Brooklands, a motorway town on the M25. A few weeks earlier his father was fatally wounded at the Metro-Centre, a vast shopping mall in the centre of this apparently peaceful town, when a deranged mental patient opened fire on a crowd of shoppers.
When the main suspect is released without charge thanks to the dubious testimony of self-styled pillars of the community - including Julia Goodwin, the doctor who treated his father on his deathbed - Richard suspects that there is more to his father's death than meets the eye, a more sinister element lurking behind the pristine facades of the labyrinthine mall.
Determined to unravel the mystery, Richard soon realises that the Metro-Centre, with its round-the-clock cable channel and sports clubs, lies at the very heart of his father's death. Consumerism rules the lives of everyone in the motorway towns and feeds the cravings of this bored community with its desperate need for something new, whatever the cost. Riots frequently terrorise the streets, immigrant communities are set upon by roving bands of hooligans and sports events mushroom into jingoistic political rallies. Gradually, Richard finds himself drawn into this world, caught up in the workings of the mall, exposed to the insides of the consumer dream, and starts upon dismantling this wayward vision his advertising career helped to found…
In this gripping, dystopian tour de force, J.G. Ballard holds up a mirror to middle England, reflecting an unsettling image of suburbia and revealing the darker forces at work beneath the gloss of consumerism and flag-waving patriotism.