‘One of the funniest and truest writers we have. No one understands England better than Meades.’ Stephen Fry An inventively nasty, gruesomely comic paean to the sylvan heights of Forest Hill and Upper Norwood, a warped map of the death trade’s quotidian strangeness. Henry Fowler was twice, long ago, runner-up in the Oil Fuels Guild-sponsored Young Funeral Director of the Year competition. His intense loyalties are to his parents, to his wife and children, to the family firm and the trade it practises, to his native south-east London and to his best friend Curly, traffic wonk and surviving brother of his former best friend who fell to his death at Norwood Junction. Well into middle age, and Henry’s life is running smoothly as he always hoped it would. But then: his wife’s tennis partner, a celebrity florist and BBC2 star is accidentally beheaded by his electric hedgecutter while crimping a three metre high topiary poodle; Curly, newly married and eager for a child is diagnosed as suffering ‘waterworks problems’; and Henry, suddenly doubtful of his wife’s fidelity, cuts a lock of his sleeping daughter’s hair. The foundations of a world, a family and an identity begin to rock.