Lester Ferris is a burnt out British sergeant who after seeing too many horrors of war is sent to serve out his last days in the army on the island of Mancreu, a former British colony where he is to be Brevet-Consul until the island is destroyed, Mancreu is a toxic island with an underbelly of mutant bacteria living in its volcanic core. With the island in legal limbo the Black Fleet lies just offshore, illicit ships where drug factories, dodgy hospitals, money laundering and torture chambers exist unchallenged. Now under the jurisdiction of the NATO and Allied Protection Force on Mancreu (NatProMan) many of the islanders have already left and with more poisonous clouds predicted to erupt soon full evacuation seems to be inevitable. Most of those remaining are law-abiding citizens but some have turned to dodgier dealings. The Sergeant though has orders to act only as village bobby, and do little more than "walk, take tea and say hello".
He strikes up a friendship with a mysterious comic-obsessed young boy, a protégé who talks the language of the internet (Zomg! Total win!), seems to know most of the secrets of the island but won't talk about his own home life. The Sergeant realises he wants to adopt the boy and to look after him when it's time to evacuate but tragic events mean that their lives are thrown into turmoil. Lester can't stand back any more, not when the boy is in danger. The boy decides what Mancreu needs is a superhero. Can Tigerman foil the villains? Are they who he thinks they are and can this condemned island be saved anyway?
Tigerman is a truly engaging and original book; for all the nail-biting tension, humour, superheroic deeds and a brilliant twist there is also a deep and honest heart to it. The secondary characters are a richly described group of disparate individuals but it's the relationship between the boy and the man, these flawed and damaged people who we fear and hope for and who are better together but may not be able to stay that way, that makes this book so very human.
This is easily one of the best books I've read this year, in short, and to quote the boy, Tigerman is "full of win".
Thank you to the author and publishers for my free copy of Tigerman from NetGalley in return for my honest review.
Tigerman is published in the UK by William Heinemann