Dead Girl Walking

dgwTitle: Dead Girl Walking

Author: Christopher Brookmyre

Summary: Famous, beautiful and talented, Heike has the world at her feet. Then she simply vanishes.

Jack Parlabane has lost everything: his journalism career, his marriage, his self-respect. A call for help from an old friend offers a chance of redemption – but only if he can find our what happened to missing singer Heike.

Each member of her band has secrets, not least newest recruit Monica Halcrow. Fixated on Heike from day one, she is driven by paranoia, jealousy and fear.

Pursued across Europe by those who would punish him for past crimes, Parlabane must find out what Monica is hiding before it’s too late.

Rating: ★★★★★ 4.5/5

Review: Well, first of all that blurb is misleading and inaccurate. Finding out what happened to Heike isn’t a chance at redemption–it’s a job. None of the band really has secrets, and Monica was not fixated or paranoid. Parlabane isn’t pursued by people wanting to punish him for past crimes and he only even knows Monica is hiding something in the last 75 pages or so.

Despite the poor summary, the book is good. I had missed Parlabane, and so had a lot of his friends, it turns out, because the man we meet at the start of this book is certainly not the Parlabane we know from previous books. Along with Brookmyre’s writing, Parlabane’s grown up a wee bit. I’d say he’s having a midlife crisis, but as his life is usually so full of comedy, adventure and danger, a midlife crisis for him is having no job, no wife and no hope.

When he gets a call from the sister of an old friend with a job offer, things begin to change. I saw the love-interest angle here from the get go, and from the get-go i did not like it. It seemed forced, and she seems like not at all the kind of partner Parlabane needs; she might be able to corral rock stars, but if she can’t make a sharp exit down a rope or keep her head in a crisis, what good is she to Parlabane? I would be much more interested if Parlabane and McLeod ended up dating. Journalist and copper. They’d disagree on a hell of a lot, but in a fiery wild way, and they’re both able to handle themselves in dangerous situations.

The best part of Parlabane stayed the course, though: his humour. His dry, cynical, straight talking makes me crack a grin every time, with more than a few chuckles.

He had recently heard some chinless Tory fuckpuddle say that London was a world-class city being held back by the rest of the UK. Parlabane had reckoned that if he poured all his money and efforts into fitting out his toilet he could almost certainly have himself a truly world class shite-house. Obviously there would be little in the way of cash or other physical resources for the development and upkeep of the living room and the kitchen, etc… but if anyone asked, he could tell them he had a world-class bog and it was just a shame the rest of the house was holding it back.

Parlabane is only half the book, though. The other half is Monica and Heike. I was ambivalent on the pair of them, to be honest. Throughout I seemed to dislike one or the other of them. I think they were supposed to be in their early 20s, but they often read like teenagers. They were moody and fickle and never properly talked to each other, which lead to many misunderstandings. I just really like it when two female lead characters are mature and get on with each other, so it’s a shame these two couldn’t manage it. I liked that Brookmyre included a lesbian character and a bi-curious character, but i couldn’t buy their relationship because it never seemed consistent enough

The story was fine–typical crime/mystery thriller type with a sex-traffic angle, though the missing rock star and band-on-tour blog added an interesting shade to it all. I looooved the start, in that the only thing revealed was that someone was murdered and someone witnessed it, but you don’t know who these people are. It had me interested and analysing everything right from the first chapter. Unfortunately the twists in the reveal weren’t a shock to me–i’d called most of them.

Ultimately what makes this book, like any other Brookmyre, is the writing. It is witty, relevant, concise and addictive. It might not be quite as crude and immature as his early books, but it’s miles better than your average crime fiction. I’m looking forward to more Parlabane soon!

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TTT: If You Like Horror

TTTThis week has been the first topic in a good long while that has actually appealed to me. However, that didn’t make it easy. In fact, this was pretty difficult. I don’t think I read enough “super popular books” to have a base to recommend from. Nor do read enough in any genre to really have enough books to recommend. Well, with the exception of maybe one…

Lo, I present to you my top ten books to read if you like “super popular author” Stephen King, or the horror genre in general. There is a range of horror represented here, but all kinds of horror Stephen King has dabbled in (because really, what type of horror hasn’t he dabbled in?)

The Haunting of Hill House – A classic haunted house horror story with a psychological twist. This is possibly my very favourite horror novel, ever.

Haunted – Erring on the graphic line of the horror genre, but being no less creepy for it.

I Am Legend – Science fiction meets creature feature. The true horror in this book is its tense psychological terror.

Apartment 16 – Very reminiscent of Stephen King, generally. Demons and ghosts and creepy happening in this flat.

Prince of Thorns – A true horror in that this book deals with violent murder, rape and war in a post-apocalyptic Middle Age-like setting.

Pandaemonium – More of a horror comedy, i’m sure Christopher Brookmyre doesn’t know how to make his readers not laugh, even in the midst of, well, pandemonium.

The Midwich Cuckoos – Everyone in a small town falls asleep, during which time all the women become pregnant. Creepy horror at its very best.

Tiny Deaths – This as a book of short stories, all written around the theme of death. Some are more horrifying than others, but what’s more horrifying than facing your own mortality?

Party Monster – Is outrageous horror a thing? This book makes it a thing. Sex, drugs, murder and dismemberment with the Club Kids!

Florence and Giles – Starting off as a quiet and unassuming creepy house horror, this book evolves into something supernatural before dealing an altogether different twist.

TTT: Film and TV

TTTThis was actually a lot harder than I thought it would be. I love books, and I love films and TV shows, so imagining some of my favourite books in that media should be loads of fun. Right? Except it wasn’t so much. It’s not that it wasn’t fun, it’s just that, actually, there are a lot of books i’ve read that I don’t think would translate well to the screen. That a lot of the things I loved about the books would be lost. Some subtly, or a character’s inner conflict, or the underlying meaning of the entire book. So, it ended up being quite difficult to choose 10 books, to be honest.

This entire list also comes with a proviso: I would want to see these books made into films or TV shows that I would have creative control over. I would want them on the screen like they are in my head. I would get to decide what parts got left out and any details that would be changed. So often film adaptations let me down, but if this is my top ten—it’s my top ten.

American Gods – This is already getting a pilot for a TV series, but as far as i’m aware there is no cast, no date, and no guarantee of a full series. But yes, i’d have a lot of fun making this into a TV show. Actually seeing Wednesday and his merry band of ancient gods.

The Night Circus – The rights have been bought to adapt this into a film, but it doesn’t appear to be moving anywhere. I would be more than happy to be brought on as director. The visuals in this book are extraordinary, and I can imagine them working for the screen incredibly well.

The Girl with all the Gifts – This kind of plot is exactly what the horror/zombie film genre needs. Also that ending. Yes. It’s not even this specific book that i’d (necessarily) love to see on the big screen, but a film that takes the well-worn genre and adds some twists, approaches it from a new angle and generally does something different.

Apathy and Other Small Victories – Although this adaptation would need a voice over, I wouldn’t mind, because it would be hilarious. I’d even allow the narrator to break the fourth wall and address the audience directly. It would be cliché, but clichéd perfection.

The Vesuvius Club – Considering Mark Gatiss has written for both film and TV, it’s not a big surprise to find his book on this list. It’s just… perfectly set up to be a film (film series, even, with the two sequels). Imagine an Edwardian debonair James Bond-esque character with questionable morals and an even more questionable sexuality. Add hijinks, a sex club and an potential apocalypse.

All Fun and Games Until Somebody Loses an Eye – I picked this book because it’s my favourite, but really, any Brookmyre book. He has about 18 of them, you could close your eyes and blindly grasp at them and you’d snag a good one. The characters, the action, the plot… it’s all so larger than life, it’s so easy to image watching it on screen.

Tiny Deaths – I’d love to see these short stories adapted into a series of TV programmes. They all focus on death as the subject, but are so wide-ranging and interesting. It’s also something I can see going beyond the book, with more writers and more stories.

It – Okay, this has already been adapted into a film. Both the book and the film were a huge part of my childhood. And guess what? I’ve always preferred the book. There is something in the book that the film just fails to capture (as most book-to-film adaptations do). From my youth i’ve always wanted to write a screenplay for a new adaptation, ergo, it makes my list.

Plugged – This book in another that I can so easily see working well as a film. It’s not got a huge amount of depth to it, it’s a more typical action-driven story with some real characters and some interesting details and settings along the way. A classic action comedy.

Apartment 16 – Really now, I love the horror. This book has some great and varied aspects that could work so well on screen. Such creepy, subtle shiver down the spine moments, as well as some more straightforward gruesome creatures. And an apartment building setting; corridor after corridor, door after door, a slow creaking lift… it’s just perfect.

TTT: Beach Reads

TTTAs with last week’s “freebie” topic, I may have interpreted “beach reads” a little too literally. I can’t help it if The Beach was the first book that popped into my head. I can’t help it if I then examined my Goodreads bookshelves for other books that were set on or contained beaches. I can’t help it if I then found more than 10 books that fit the criteria. I can’t help it if I then complied this list and thought, “Bugger it, i’ll post it.”

The Beach by Alex Garland. As the title may suggest, this book is largely set on a beach. Or, at least, on a small island. With a beach. I had tried to watch the film before I ever picked up the book, but couldn’t get through it. The book, however, I devoured.

Rough Music by Patrick Gale. Set mostly in Cornwall, the family in this book stay in a holiday cottage with the beach just on their doorstep. It’s a picturesque setting for the drama that unfolds.

Off the Map by Hib & Kika. There are several beaches in this book, which is told in short vignettes of Hib and Kika’s travels around Europe.

The Kraken Wakes by John Wyndham. Where there are sea creatures emerging from the depths, there are beaches…

Life of Pi by Yann Martel. While mostly set at sea, there are one or two beaches. And you know, the sea is a vital component of a beach.

The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks. Set on a small Scottish island, the beach may not be sunny and idyllic, but there is a beach.

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe. Your classic stranded on a desert island pick.

One Fine Day in the Middle of the Night by Christopher Brookmyre. This book is the one anomaly in my list, as I can’t be certain whether it includes a beach or not. But, there is the North Sea coast and an oil rig converted into a holiday haven for people who love sun but hate other cultures.

Lord of the Flies by William Golding. Your second classic (with a twist) stranded on a desert island pick.

Island by Richard Laymon. Shipwrecked, stalked, kidnapped and murdered. All in the sun on a beautiful sandy beach.

TTT: Authors

TTTI found this one pretty easy. There aren’t too many authors I read just because—without knowing more about the book itself. My original list had about 13 names, and it wasn’t too hard to cut that down to 10. These authors are ten names that have me reading any book by without question.

Christopher Brookmyre – Comedy, crime, satire, well-rounded characters. The day a Brookmyre book doesn’t make me laugh out loud will be a very sad day indeed (and a day that will never happen).

John Wyndham – Insightful science fiction. This man has not written a word I haven’t loved.

Patrick deWitt – I can’t even categorise deWitt’s genre… sharp, witty contemporary. Is that a thing? With only two books written, i’m already 100% hooked.

Stephen King – Horror. As King has said himself: he is the literary equivalent of a bigmac and fries. It’s not the most nutritious meal, and you don’t want to eat it every day, but it’s bloody tasty when you have it.

Shirley Jackson – Horror. Jackson is more classic horror. More chills and meaning. More genuinely scary.

William Golding – Another author who is hard to pigeon hole, because his subject matter and message vary so much from book to book. He is consistently well-written and interesting, though.

George Orwell – Intelligent, insightful and ahead of his time. I’ve only read a couple of Orwell’s books so far, but I look forward to more.

Aldous Huxley – I file Huxley close to Orwell, but not because of Brave New World and 1984, as you might expect. Mostly because they strike me as two people who would have interesting conversations—they both have worthwhile and intelligent things to say.

J D Salinger – Some authors are just in a genre of their own, and I think Salinger is one. He has such a way with words, so simple, but so unique for his characters. He gets across concepts and personality so swiftly that it looks easy.

Ursula Le Guin – Science fiction that holds such imagination and exploration. I adore Le Guin a lot. I can’t get enough of her work, and hold very high—and possibly unfair—expectations of her.

Bedlam

bedlamTitle: Bedlam

Author: Christopher Brookmyre

Summary: Ross Baker is an overworked scientist developing medical technology for corporate giant Neurosphere, but he’d rather be playing computer games then dealing with his nightmare boss or slacker co-workers.

He volunteers as a test candidate for the new tech – anything to get out of the office for a few hours. But when the experiment is over he discovers he’s not only escaped the office, but possibly escaped real life for good. He’s trapped in Starfire – a video game he played as a child – with no explanation, no backup and, most terrifyingly, no way out.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 3.5/5

Review: As a fan of every other Brookmyre book, i was really looking forward to reading this. I was, however, also apprehensive; it apparently wasn’t his best work. Hoping all the people i’d heard that from were wrong, i jumped in with full optimism. Oh well.

As much as i don’t want to start with the things i didn’t like, i feel like i should. They were simple but big things.

The first was Brookmyre’s obvious enthusiasm for video games. His love of the games, the worlds, the terminology shines through, especially at the start, when the main character, Ross, wakes up, realises he’s in a video game and starts figuring out how to play it from the inside. I so easily felt Brookmyre’s joy in his writing, but the trouble with that was that i didn’t share it. I know enough about video games and the terminology to get by and understand enough of what was going on, but not enough that i got all the references or laughed at all the jokes.

The second major thing i disliked about the book was some of its representation and objectification of women. Ross’s girlfriend (whom we never actually “meet”) is a two-dimensional plot device, used only to help us care more about Ross. This failed for me, however, when Ross didn’t really seem to care about her at all, and only started missing her when he thought he might spend eternity alone and viewed her mostly only as the mother of his child. I also failed to give a shit about the main character when he was ogling the breasts of a purely computer-generated character and “getting a virtual semi.” Yep, really missing his cardboard cut out of a girlfriend. There were other occasions, but for obvious reasons i didn’t commit them to memory. This sexism may be intentional and related to the video game culture, but Brookmyre did not seem to be making a worthy point, but merely reinforcing the one that already exists and is still highly prolific.

But there was plenty i did like, too. It hooked me very early on with its plethora of imaginative curses, most being variations of “arse X” (arse cakes, arse candles, arse trumpets etc). The majority of the humour is classic Brookmyre, and many out loud laughs were had.

The plot was intriguing. It took a while to get into, thanks to the long set up, world(s) building and the aforementioned enthusiasm of the author (which i think only made this problem worse), but by about halfway through i was fully engaged in pondering possible motives and theories and outcomes. By the last 150 pages i was engrossed and finished it all in pretty much one sitting–i had to know what happened!

For all its sexism, Bedlam does have a few wonderful female characters (just not Ross’ girlfriend), and i appreciated everything about them. Juno’s personal strength and determination, Agnes’ optimism and sunny disposition, and Iris’ independence and grey moral spectrum.

So, while this was not a patch on Brookmyre’s other books, it still has many of the elements that i love about his work. I’m sure he had a hell of a good time writing it, and reading it certainly wasn’t any sort of hardship.

This knocks three squares off my Bookish Bingo: Pirates, cyborgs or robots and set in a parallel universe. (Some might consider pirates a stretch, but computer game space travel or not, they are called pirates in the book!)

TTT: Female Heroes

TTT I hate the word “heroine” like i hate the words “actress” and “comedienne” and the connotations that they are somehow lesser than heroes, actors or comedians. Why the need to distinguish the sex between two people who are doing the same thing? So yes, this is a list of my favourite female heroes.

One of the obvious choices is Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games, and as much as i love her, i figure at least 80% of people writing for this topic will include her in their list. So i picked 10 others. As it is, i had to cut this list down to 10, so. Sorry Katniss!

Mrs Twit from The Twits. She was a nasty piece of work, but what I love about her is that she was just as nasty a piece of work as her husband. They have a hate-hate relationship, but in terms of the tricks they play on each other, Mrs Twit gives as good as she gets.

Liesel Meminger from The Book Thief. She’s an independent, strong-willed and intelligent young girl in a harrowing and terrible situation. But she manages finds friends, love, connection and joy.

Phyllis Watson from The Kraken Wakes. She’s a smart woman who sees the dangers coming years in advance, and plans accordingly without even involving her husband. When shit finally hits the fan, it is her plan that sees them through in the end.

Eleanor Vance from The Haunting of Hill House. Although in many ways Eleanor is timid, easily manipulated and cares far too much what people think of her, she can, when the mood strike her, be hot headed, strong-willed and fiercely independent. In some ways I pity Eleanor, because I don’t at all see things how she does, but in the end she stood by her own (perhaps misguided) opinions and did what she wanted.

Melanie from The Girl with All the Gifts. From the start of the book, where she does not have all the information as to what situation she finds herself in, to the the end of the book, where she is the one who puts all the pieces together. Melanie is a thoughtful 10-year-old girl, who gives this book the kind of hopefully bleak ending I love.

Amy Dunne from Gone Girl. Don’t get me wrong—i don’t like Amy, but I have to admire her. She was smart, she was patient, and she was thorough. She got shit done, and as situations evolved, she rolled with the punches and altered her plans. I hate her, but damn it I respect her.

Jane Fleming from All Fun and Games Until Somebody Loses An Eye. From repressed and tedious wife, mother and grandmother to arse kicking, gun toting, rescuer. This granny certainly kens the score.

Angelique de Xavia from A Big Boy Did It and Ran Away. She’s an innocent looking petite lady who wouldn’t stand out in a crowd. And she can kick your arse from 20 feet away before you blink.

Jasmine Sharp from Where the Bodies Are Buried. Failed actress turned private investigator, she’s willing to work outside the law and dig up long-buried secrets to get the job done.

 

This last one contains SPOILERS for The Wasp Factory. You have been warned…

 

Frank Cauldhame from The Wasp Factory. More of an anti-hero, but the twist that Frank was born a female and pumped full of drugs and lied to for most of his life made so much of his character work for me. The hatred of women he was surrounded by and the macabre nature of his hobbies. It made me like him.

TTT: Character Spin Offs

TTTWanting more from a book, a book that leaves the reader craving more, is a sign of a great book for me. And for me that will most often come in the form of characters. Characters make or break books as far as i’m concerned, and characters that I love or hate and want more of, will always make a book. These are some of the most intriguing characters i’d love to read more about in some capacity.

1. Zellaby and Lord Henry from The Midwich Cuckoos and The Picture of Dorian Gray, respectively.
This a towfer, but it’s also something i’ve wanted for a long time. A book entirely about Zellaby and Lord Henry sitting down over a pot of tea and talking philosophically. I want it so much, one day, I may just write it myself.

2. The women from The Godfather.
As much as I enjoyed this book, the sexism made me rage. All I wanted was a book from the female characters’ POVs, essentially showing that they were the ones really running the show. That they were so in control, they could pull the men’s strings without the men even realising it.

3. The ‘kraken’ (because they’re aren’t actually called that) from The Kraken Wakes.
I like stories where the villains have their own, valid, motivations. When it’s not as simple as good and evil, when there is grey area. And in books like that—like The Kraken Wakes—i find myself wanting to know more about the other side of the story.

4. Wednesday from American Gods.
I just found him immensely interesting. How in control, self-assured and mysterious he was. He was weaving this plot, knowing where all the pieces were and guiding them into the places he needed them to be. I would love to have experienced that from his point of view. Also, I just generally want more of him.

5. Clarisse McClellan from Fahrenheit 451.
This peculiar young girl who effortlessly helps turn Guy Montag’s life upside down. She’s in, what, two or three scenes early in the book and then she disappears. We never really find out much about her or what happens to her, but I would very much like to.

6. The deaf-mute in a top hat from Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters.
My favourite line in the entire story:
“An instant later, a silk hat materialised in the air beside me, considerably down and to the left, and my special, only technically unassigned cohort grinned up at me – for a moment, I rather thought he was going to slip his hand into mine.”
How could I not want, just, more of this man?

7. The Triffids from The Day of The Triffids.
Another, perhaps, misunderstood evil creature. Though they did plant themselves (a pun! Ha) on Earth and lay in wait for years before striking when the human race was at its weakest, so maybe not so misunderstood. Still, I love an interesting, complex, plant-based villain. I’d love to read their take over of Earth from their point of view.

8. Tim Vale from One Fine Day in the Middle of the Night and Be My Enemy.
Brookmyre is so bloody good at characters, even his secondary, supporting, fucking fleeting characters are so rich. I’d take more of any of them, really. But Mr Vale… a “security expert”… his back story is just dripping with potential, and I am more than eager to read about it. Also not impossible that he could, in theory, get his own book…

9. The house from The Haunting of Hill House.
I can include inanimate objects on this list, right? Though, ‘inanimate’ might not be a word that describes this house. The mystery surrounding it, the horrors it has contained. I want to experience that with the house, too, not only its inhabitants. Would it be less scary? More? Would it answer my questions, or raise further ones? I don’t mind what the answers to these questions are, but i’d be fascinated to find out.

10. IT from IT.
This villain I would just want to know more about. Its supernatural nature is evident, but no solid answers on what it is or where it is from are ever answered, only that it has been living in, feeding from and influencing the inhabitants of the town for hundreds of years. This is one of my favourite books, and it’s already pretty darn long, but I would welcome more.

Flesh Wounds

16204828Title: Flesh Wounds

Author: Chris Brookmyre

Summary: Private investigator Jasmine Sharp’s father was murdered before she was born, and her mother went to self-sacrificing lengths in order to shield her from the world in which he moved. Since her mother’s death, all she has been able to learn is his first name – and that only through a strange bond she has forged with the man who killed him: Glen Fallan. But when Fallan is arrested for the murder of a criminal her mother knew since childhood, Jasmine is finally forced to enter his domain: a place where violence is a way of life and vengeance spans generations.

Detective Superintendent Catherine McLeod has one major Glaswegian gangster in the mortuary and another in the cells for killing him – which ought to be cause for celebration. Catherine is not smiling, however. From the moment she discovered a symbol daubed on the victim’s head, she has understood that this case is far more dangerous than it appears on the surface: deeper than skin, darker than blood; something that could threaten her family and end her career.

As one battles her demons and the other chases her ghosts, these two very different detectives will ultimately confront the secrets that have entangled both of their fates since before Jasmine was even born.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 4/5

Review: Flesh Wounds = ((Gangster history lessons + Revenge) x (Police + Sharp Investigations)) ^ Secrets + Mystery

It has been almost two years since i last read a Brookmyre book. That makes it almost two years since i last wrote a book summary equation. (They’re fun, but for some reason i’ve only ever done them for Brookmyre books.)

You wont catch me with many bad things to say about a Brookmyre book, and this is no exception. So, let’s start with the good.

Female characters. I won’t deny i prefer classic Christopher Brookmyre more; the bizarre characters (Spammy forever), the outlandish situations and the big laughs. But what the Sharp Investigations series has that they didn’t is a concentrated wealth of strong females, including the two leads, Jasmine Sharp and Catherine McLeod. It’s so refreshing to read, especially from a male writer who’s actually doing it well. They aren’t all the same female with different names. They aren’t all stereotypically feminine. They are individual, well-rounded characters who happen to be female. Brookmyre is doing females here better than some female authors, and that’s because he’s doing characters, and he excels at that.

Plots and sub-plots and sub-sub-plots. A couple of times it was difficult for me to remember who was what and what was where and where was when, but the detail and history and plots that are weaved in this book (in this series) are incredible. I want a peek at Brookmyre’s notes to see how he’s managed to keep all the facts organised.

An event (a death, a conversation, a deal, an arrest) can be mentioned almost off-handedly, or only briefly referenced, then pages and chapters later in a flashback chapter we get to see it played out in full (and even then it might not be the main point of the scene). Once i was left thinking, “Is that the guy whose death was mentioned earlier? His name rings a bell. It must be. So this is how he died. (I think.)”

Other sub-plots include the budding romance of two more minor characters, McLeod’s children’s penchant for violence and Jasmie’s Aunt’s lesbianism. These things don’t advance the main plot of the book–they advance the development of the characters. (Have i mentioned how good the characters are?)

Points of view. There are many. The main two for most of the book are Jasmine and McLeod, but the book is spattered with others. Some get a three or four chapters, others only one. It’s the kind of thing that could leave the reader confused, but in this case it just… doesn’t. It works well with the plots and sub-plots that are woven, letting them all exist in their own sections of the book. It helps everything be kept clearer, until all the threads start to meet towards the climax of the book.

I think really there are only two things i can say i didn’t like about this book. The first was that i would have preferred more Jasmine. For a book in the “Sharp Investigations” series, this book felt very much dominated by the police investigation and characters. This isn’t “bad”; it worked, it’s just not what i would have preferred.

The only other thing that didn’t work (for me, personally) were some of the attempts at mystery and twists. I have a knack for seeing twists coming (not always, but often), so this isn’t completely a reflection of the book. But it felt far too often hints were made at ~something~ that was supposed to keep the reader in suspense until it was revealed, but i would just think, “Okay, so [this is what that’s about].” And it left me a little disappointed, because to me it was so obvious. The biggest of these were the chapters scattered through the book about a young girl growing up on a farm. She is very carefully left unnamed, which told me she was someone we know–that this was a flashback plot. Process of elimination quickly lead me to who it was before the end of the first of these chapters, and i was already working things out about her history, character and motivations in the present-plot. Which isn’t a bad thing, you might say. And i would agree–but not for a first read through; it shouldn’t have been that obvious. I can’t let myself judge too harshly on this, though, because as i said, i am prone to noticing the hints and putting things together quicker than the dramatic reveals plans for.

Ultimately, this book was really great. When someone writes characters and invents plots as well as Brookmyre, he could write about anything and i would read it. And really, the last paragraph of the book has left me happily craving the next!