Scottish writer Iain Banks is one of the most famous in the world among contemporary novelists. Critics regard him highly, and rightly so, in early 1999, according to the survey on the website of the BBC News Banks got to the fifth place in the top ten "literary hit parade of Millennium" – losing to Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Orwell and Dickens, but ahead of Tolkien, Joyce, Dostoyevsky, Cervantes and Mark Twain.
The very first novel of Banks “The Wasp Factory” (1984) caused a storm of feedback - from enthusiastic to angry. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine the reader indifferent to this book, as the plot of the novel is shocking. Sixteen-year-old Frank lives with his father on a small island, is devoted to games and fantasies of a lonely teenager, but gradually the reader learns that on Frank's conscience there are three murders committed with devilish dexterity and even artistry. It should immediately be said that thanks to the remarkable talent of the narrator and psychologist Banks does not turn his novel into a mediocre thriller.
Deep, even philosophical author's intention is being opened gradually, little by little. There are a lot of secrets in the novel, the most important of them are the following: what is the Wasp Factory, why Frank's brother Eric hates all dogs, whether the police could catch madman Eric, who escaped from a psychiatric hospital, why in front of strangers Frank should call his father "uncle", that the father hides in his heavily guarded office study. All these usual detective mysteries fade into the background when the reader realizes that it is necessary to solve another mysteries - the mystery of Frank, Eric and their father’s relations – "true feelings" of a father to son and of a son to a father, the mystery of Eric’s madness and Frank’s crimes.
The depth and significance of the book is in the progressive development and deepening into the Christological metaphor. Themes of guilt, retribution, father and son, suffering and compassion permeate the narrative; motif of purity first is heard in details described with naturalistic details (in the scene of the physical washing the protagonist explores his bodily nature), and in the next chapter his spiritual origin is explored, and for the first time the name of Frank's mother is mentioned - Agnes (Greek - pure, undefiled. lat -. lamb), the name of the father - Angus (Latin - snake). Snake and kite are implements of two murders committed by Frank.
Banks’s novel teaches humility, showing clearly that the secret cannot be created artificially, on human manner, because it must have a miracle item, performing under accidents, unexpected fate. Secrets are good in detective stories, all other man-made mysteries do not count.