The anonymous protagonist of Jeremy Blachman’s faux-blog is – not to beat around the bush – a fairly unpleasant man. A senior lawyer in an absurdly wealthy legal firm, his idea of entertainment is to humiliate bright young interns on their summer placements while engaging in bitter jockeying for position within the company.
His colleagues, characterised by witty but stereotyped pseudonyms – “The Jerk”, “Lives With His Mom” and “Closet Lesbian” – are just as grasping and capricious, and their infighting is described in humorous terms. Blachman, a law graduate himself, has a remarkable aptitude for capturing office politics at their most intense, where bickering over a bagel counts for as much as a million-pound bonus.
Where the author falls down is in engendering any sympathy for his characters. Viewed purely as a Swiftian satire on the nature of greed, the book is compellingly horrible, even if the message (money corrupts, as does power) falls a bit flat. Yet there are occasional clunky attempts to humanise the protagonist through his relationship with his law-student niece, who is presented as a counter to him in every regard – decent, honourable and selfless. An unpleasantly entertaining read, certainly, but hardly profound.