REVIEW: The Big Issue in the North

Ally Fogg
July 2003

**** 4/5 stars

In the near future, US corporations rule the world and employees change their surnames to that of their employers. Senior executive John Nike has big plans, which begin with boosting the street cred of his products by arranging to have 14 kids shot dead in their pursuit of the latest sneakers. A determined government agent (the eponymous Jennifer) resolves to bring him to justice. The only problem is, if John Nike has his way, there will soon be no government left to pursue him.

Barry's vitriolic satire is about as topical as you could imagine, dealing with the biggest political and ideological issues of our time. But as a novel it is more Christopher Brookmyre than Joseph Heller - a page-turning comedy thriller with ever cliche and set-piece of the genre in place.

It's enormous fun, many of the anti-corporate jibes strike home, yet at heart it feels as disposable as last year's trainers.