Former Radio 4 broadcaster Mark Lawson makes a topical mark with his latest novel, The Allegations. It's good stuff, but may well get him into hot water, says books editor James Walton. 

The Allegations
The Allegations by Mark Lawson

If I were Mark Lawson, I might invest in a tin hat this month—because The Allegations seems bound to provoke the sort of fight it’s clearly spoiling for.

In 2014, Lawson left BBC Radio 4’s arts programme Front Row amid accusations of bullying. Now, Tom Pimm, one of the main characters here, is a history professor accused of the same thing—even though all he’s done is stand up for intellectual rigour and common sense.

Worse, his friend and colleague Ned Marriott is arrested for “historic” sexual abuse—despite not being guilty either. But what both men come to understand is that at a time when offence-taking has become
a national pastime and all accusers are described as “victims”, innocence is largely irrelevant. 

The result is a book that, although highly readable, is essentially a howl of middle-aged male outrage at what Ned calls “the bonfire of the sanities” in the age of censorious social media. And for my money, Lawson hits most of his targets bang-on.

 

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