Two narrative lines follow an imagined perpetrator and a father and daughter in the 1984 bombing that targeted Margaret Thatcher and other Conservative Party notables meeting at the Grand Hotel in Brighton, England.
Given its premise, readers might be forgiven for thinking that the book is a political thriller, but anyone coming to High Dive expecting a cliffhanger in the tradition of Frederick Forsyth or Robert Harris will be disappointed. Lee is far more interested in character than plot. Instead of white-knuckle action, we get a sequence of exquisitely rendered set pieces. The result is a beautifully realized novel about the intertwining of loyalty, family, ambition and politics.
Rather than slavishly recreating the Brighton bombing in its every detail, Mr. Lee freestyles, creating a sympathetic ensemble both at the Grand Hotel and in the streets of Belfast — the book tacks back and forth between the two — all while making expert use of the dramatic tension inherent in waiting for a lethal explosion...There’s great range and compassion and high-definition imagery in Mr. Lee’s writing.
[A]t his best—and he is at it often—Lee displays a nimble metaphysical wit and a verbal ingenuity on a par with Martin Amis’s ... It is Jonathan Lee’s great achievement to have written, on this of all subjects, one of the gentlest novels in memory.