While learned critics were reaching for the "Dickensian" epithet, I recalled The Wire, which had multiple story lines, interweaving characters and each said something funny, pointed and wise about the times we are living in. The word then and now is "sprawling" both of the clever interlocking themes and the wide ranging cast - some you believe more than others - John Veals the hedge fund scumbag most of all. Mixed in with all of that is a smattering of sexual tension and human tragedy. What is particularly impressive is that those issues pan mental illness, football, immigration, hedge funds, the book world, the law, morality in the media, Islam, ambition, failure, voices in the head and a few more layers of London. There have already been a number of books dealing with the elements of the financial crisis of 2008, but in the hands of Sebastian Faulks, a really accomplished literary writer, this one will stand out. There is an element of him showing off, using contemporary themes he backs them all up with flawless research and detail. It makes for a dizzying read - but one that is hard to dip in and out of.