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Bunker Man
by Duncan McLean

Field-Tested by Annie Logue

in business class, between JFK and SFO

My son was born in November of 1997. My OB cut me off from travel in September of that year, and I still managed to fly 100,000 miles on United.

I worked for an investment bank in San Francisco, regularly criss-crossing the country to see clients in Boston and New York. Almost every week, I spent five or ten hours in airplanes killing time. Sometimes, I received an upgrade to business class. Mostly, I read: good books, bad books, trade magazines, glossy magazines, memos from my boss. Print writers are indebted to airplane passengers, for who else has the time to read?

During that fecund frequent-flying summer of ’97, my book club chose The Bunker Man by Duncan McLean. We had a weakness for British writers, and we weren’t afraid of controversy. One of the club’s members had heard that McLean was talented, maybe even Booker Prize material. She didn’t know much else about the book, but we figured, why not take the risk?

The book tells of Rob Catto, the caretaker at a Scottish school who takes his responsibility to protect the children too far. He finds a bunker on the property often used by students cutting class and inhabited by a homeless man. Catto decides to keep an eye on things and report to his supervisor about the various and sundry goings on. It’s all tame unless Catto is involved. Catto becomes obsessed with his mission; he also has an affair with one of the students, aged 14. The overall effect is too creepy for even a Groundskeeper Willie joke.

So there I was, very pregnant, sitting in business class, reading about drugs and depravity, related in a heavy Scottish dialect. I wanted to hide myself, or at least the book’s cover. Did the other passengers know what I was reading? Were they thinking that I was some perverted sicko? Who should have been reading What to Expect When You’re Expecting and putting wheat germ on all of my food, but instead of reading about a crazy man imagining what it would be like to eat the flesh of his underage girlfriend? I didn’t like the book, and I certainly didn’t like the way I felt reading it in public.

Annie Logue is the author of Hedge Funds for Dummies (Wiley 2006), Day Trading for Dummies (Wiley, 2007), and the forthcoming Socially Responsible Investing for Dummies (Wiley 2008). She can be reached at her website.

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