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Keith Carter’s The Umbrella Man is an insightful and often amusing view of the global economy and financial crisis of the late noughties and the repercussions that seemingly unrelated decisions can have on our lives. Central character Peter Mount is CEO of Rareterre, a small mining company based in London. When a group of environmental activists, led by Amy Tate, decide to take action on a local Rareterre-owned rare earth mine in Oregan, their deeds have an unexpected ripple effect felt in countries and economies far, far away.

The world Carter creates is both detailed and focused. We are immersed in the financial situation of that time and also the world of rare earth mining – a revelation. His characters are equally sharply drawn, the humour black, their actions and attitudes intentionally amusing and shocking.

The Umbrella Men is a good novel, the language and plot carefully controlled: we are fed a lot of information, but in a way that’s both digestible and accessible. And that’s no mean feat.

The book’s title is a nod to a quote attributed to Mark Twain: ‘A banker is a fellow who lends you his umbrella while the sun is shining, then wants it back the minute it begins to rain.’

And the cover, which deserves a mention, with its bowler hat/umbrella motif, of course brings to mind the generic similarly hatted figure who features so prominently in artist René Magritte’s work – and also is later picked up so cleverly at the end of the remake of The Thomas Crown Affair.

As Magritte himself commented, the hat is a ‘headdress that is not original. The man with the bowler is just a middle-class man in his anonymity.’ Add in an umbrella, well…

 

The Umbrella Men | Keith Carter | Neem Tree Press | 2019 |

hardback  £14.99 | paperback  £9.99 | ebook £8.99 |

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Acknowledgements: Quote René Magritte, 1966. This review is published as part of the virtual book tour. Many thanks to lovely Anne Cater and to the publisher for supplying a review copy and jacket image. All thoughts and opinions are our own.

See also: ‘Sharon Blackie’s magic, mythology and women’; What’s in a hill? Tom Cox’;  ‘My Judy Garland life’;By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept’; ‘Yvonne Battle-Fenton’s Rememembered‘; ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised‘; ‘We should all be feminists‘; The not-so-invisible woman: 150 greats in their own words’;Permission by Saskia Vogel‘; ‘Lisa Ko’s The Leavers, Dialogue’s brilliant debut; ‘Beauty in translation – Roxanne Bouchard’s French Canadian noir‘; ‘How Penguin learned to fly – Allen Lane and the Original “Penguin Ten”‘; Dorothy L. Sayer’s Busman’s Holiday – Romek Marber for Penguin Crime (book covers we love).

This review is © 2019 by The Literary Shed. All rights reserved. All opinions are our own. We welcome your feedback and comments. If you wish to reproduce this piece, please do contact us to request permission. Thank you so much.

 

 

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