The New Policeman -- Kate Thompson
From The New Policeman:
It wasn't just the Liddys--or the Liddy-Byrnes, as some people called them--who were finding that there wasn't enough time. Everyone was having the same problem. It was understandable, perhaps, in those households where both parents were out at work all day and had to cram all their home and family life into a few short hours. But it wasn't just parents who complained of the shortage of time. Even children, it seemed, couldn't get enough of it. The old people said it was because they had too many things to do, and perhaps it was true that there were too many opportunities open to them. Apart from the ubiquitous televisions and computers there was, even in a small place like Kinvara, a plethora of after-school activities open to them, from karate to basketball to drama and back again. Even so, there ought to have been time for mooching along the country lanes, for picking blackberries, for lounging in summer meadows and watching the clouds go back, for climbing trees and making dens. There should have been time fro reading books and watching raindrops run down windows, for finding patterns in the damp stains on the ceiling and for dreaming wild daydreams. There wasn't. Apart from the inevitable few who regarded it as their solemn duty, children could scarcely even find time for making mischief. Everybody in the village, in the county--in the whole country, it seemed--was chronically short of time.
"It never used to be like this," the old people said.
"It wasn't this way when we were young," said the middle-aged.
"Is this really what life's all about?" said the young, on those rare occasions when they had a moment to think about it.
For a while it was all anyone talked about, once the weather was out of the way. They they didn't talk about it anymore. What was the point? And besides, where was the time to talk about time? People didn't call to one another's houses anymore; not to sit and chat over a cup of tea, anyway. Everyone was always on their way somewhere, or up to their eyes in something, or racing around trying to find someone, or, more often, merely trying to catch up with themselves.
When 15-year-old J.J. Liddy asks his mother what she wants for her birthday, she tells him she wants time. So he sets out to find it for her. The New Policeman is a story of music* and magic, family and secrets, a loyal dog and lost socks, souterrains and ceilis, a priest and Tir na n'Og, unsolved disappearances and (maybe) a murder.
I've made my feelings about the word "charming" clear in the past. But it fits the bill here: The New Policeman is charming -- and joyful -- and special. The Guardian described it as "delirious". That's true, too.
Fans of light fantasy are in for a huge treat. J.J. is aged fifteen, but he's a young fifteen -- I'd say this one will go over very well with ten-year-olds on up.