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by Christopher Brookmyre
Grove Press, January 2002
224 pages
ISBN: 0802138616

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

The man who wrote this book must be a really disturbed individual. it opens with perhaps the most repulsive but funniest description of a murder scene that I have ever read. A postman finds a mutilated body in an apartment in Edinburgh, and empties his stomach and bladder before calling the police, who slip and slide through the mess to the body, to find a huge smelly black "jobbie" on the mantelpiece. Inspector McGregor's bete noir is PC Gavin Skinner, who manages to muck up everything even more.

Jack Parlabane has just returned from LA is asleep in the flat upstairs. He wakes with a massive hangover to the odor of vomit. He looks around and discovers it isn't his. He goes onto the landing in bare feet and boxer shorts, and finds he has locked himself out of his apartment. The one upstairs is locked and no one is home, so he follows the odor to the flat below, figuring he can get out the window and up the fire escape to his own apartment, but DC Jenny Dalziel catches him, and takes him across the street to the police station, "to help them with their inquiries"

Of course Jack isn't the culprit. He's an investigative journalist who went to the US to avoid answering questions and had to leave LA quickly just a few steps ahead of a possible mob hit. Sarah, an anesthetist, and Ponsonby's ex-wife, comes snooping around, and Jack and Sarah start snooping.

The cover of the UK soft cover has a quote from Esquire "Thrillingly unpleasant" which adequately sums up the book. It's funny and repulsive at the same time. Some of the characters are very close to parody, Darren Mortlake, the killer for example, is just too dense to be real, but he is very funny. We know who the murderer is very early on. The trick is to guess the reason.

Editor's Note: This is a review of the UK edition.

Reviewed by Barbara Franchi, February 2002

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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