I don't generally like books without a ploy synopsis, as I feel £7 (typical paperback price) is a lot of money to spend on something I might not like, but for £3 I was willing to give this book a go.
And I am pleased I did. It is brilliant. It is well written, tells an interesting (if strange) story, that is well constructed (if complex), and has just enough humour.
It tells the story of the Winshaw family, from around 1960 through to 1990 (with not a lot of focus on the bits in the middle), following a number of members of the family, as well as their biographer (Michael Owen) who is much more involved with the family than he is aware. It is in the most general sense a murder-mystery, but with much more focus on the characters' lives in general, rather than over a short period of time. The way the plot is structured appears at first to be erratic and complicated, but it is really quite clever, and well linked together. With the backdrop of British politics, both in the 60s and the late 80s (both involving turmoil in Iraq, as it happens), the story is not exactly realistic, but it is believable. If that makes any sense at all.
I am now quite inspired to find another book by Jonathan Coe; if anyone wishes, they can buy this one off me for the princely sum of £2.