This is an intriguing novel.
It wasn’t much of a park, barely half an acre of wilted grass off Colliton Way where local people walked their dogs in the mornings and evenings. During the day it was hardly frequented at all, except by truants who hung around the trees that lined the fences. The police rarely visited it and, anyway, there was a hundred yards of open space between the only entrance and the offenders. In the time it took two overweight coppers to lumber across, the teens were long gone, vaulting the low fences into the gardens that formed the rear perimeter. As complaints came in thick and fast from homeowners whenever this happened, the police, preferring an easy life, tended to leave the youngsters alone.
The logic ran that while they were in the park they weren’t thieving, and it was better to turn a blind eye and concentrate official efforts in the city centre. To the cynical police mind, truanting came low on their list of criminal behaviour.
Situated at the poorer end of Highdown, Colliton Way had little going for it. Unemployment was high, school attendance poor, and the proposed new buildings on the acres of waste ground behind it, which had promised jobs and houses, had faltered to a halt. The only site under construction was the Brackham & Wright tool factory, which was a planned replacement for the present, antiquated building in Glazeborough Road. This was no consolation to its workers, many of whom lived in Colliton Way, because up-to-date technology and automation always brought redundancies…
I notice, too, that the War on Terror and the invasion of Iraq colour both Disordered Minds (2003) and Amy Tan’s Saving Fish from Drowning (2005), and neither book is flattering towards the present powers-that-be in the UK or the USA. Tony Blair’s spin on Iraq frames the narrative in Disordered Minds, the revelations of intricate deceptions at the level of plot occurring just as in the “real world” the Hutton Enquiry is about to start. There are many strong comments on paranoia and prejudice right through the novel.
…There was no morality in killing people — a peasant’s genes were as valuable as a president’s — merely expediency… Jet-lagged and cynical from a week in New York where reasoned discussion on a Palestinian state and the problems of Islamic fundamentalism had been impossible, Jonathan found his homecoming deeply dispiriting. It might have been Hiram Johnson who said the first casualty of war was truth, but to Jonathan’s jaundiced eyes the first casualty was tolerance. As far as he was concerned, the world had gone mad since the attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon.