Book Review: Geoff Nicholson’s “The Miranda”

By: D.M. Olsen

Some might consider Joe Johnson’s situation a crisis. He just quit his job as a torture expert for a covert government agency called the Team. Joe also just divorced his wife and moved into a remote home three hours north of London, where he intends to walk the circumference of the earth from the privacy of his backyard. He plans to walk a small, circular path twenty-five miles a day for one thousand days. However, as Joe quickly finds out, and as the compelling narrative unfolds, privacy is the last thing afforded by Joe’s new house. He is surrounded by nosy neighbors, a philosophical mailman, and a band of skinheads who invoke a turf war with the veteran torture artist. And, of course, Miranda.

Responding to a flyer on his doorstep, Joe finds friendship through a personal assistant and aspiring bartender looking to make the perfect cocktail, The Miranda. Joe’s desperate attempts to stay hidden are for naught as he becomes the topic of an article in the local newspaper and the inspiration for a live-stream art project filming (without his permission) every move around his yard, all while Joe’s past slowly catches up to him.

Written from a witty, dry, and hilarious first-person perspective, Nicholson weaves a sophisticated, satirical tale replete with intellectual ponderings and criticisms on the human condition while staying the task of moving the plot forward to its dramatic conclusion, as Joe’s past finally does catch up to him. The novel explores themes of technology, surveillance, the impossibility of privacy in the modern world, philosophy, and theology, all with surprising wit and skill.