A Week in December

A Week in December is the first serious credit-crunch novel. It follows several characters over seven days at the end of 2007. These include John Veals, a scheming hedge-fund manager; his skunk-smoking son Finn; Hassan al-Rashid, a would-be terrorist; his immigrant entrepreneur father, Farooq; and a Tube train driver, Jenni Fortune.

This is an unwieldy cast, however, and it is often hard to keep track of their fortunes. Most diverting are Veals's financial subterfuge, a terrorist plot involving Hassan, and an unlikely romance between Jenni and a barrister.

As satire, the novel is not especially subtle. Its treatment of contemporary issues is often perfunctory ("The misdemeanours of the bankers will be paid for by millions of people," one character declares). And in trying to be comprehensive, it falls short of offering a truly incisive comment on modern urban life.

A Week in December

Sebastian Faulks

Hutchinson, 352pp, £18.99

Samira Shackle is a freelance journalist, who tweets @samirashackle. She was formerly a staff writer for the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 28 September 2009 issue of the New Statesman, The 50 people who matter