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by Christopher Brookmyre
Grove Press, September 2002
380 pages
ISBN: 0802139191

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

HANG THE BASTARDS NOW! the tabloid headlines shrieked, blissfully ignoring the fact that Great Britain has not had the death penalty for some decades. The bastards in question are four burglars who are believed to have savagely cut the throat of the tabloid's owner, and his wife, after dispatching his body guards. And they did it in the stately confines of a country house in Perthshire. Jack Parablane, the investigative journalist who first appeared in Quite Ugly One Morning, is initially outraged. How dare a bunch of burglars deprive a host of more deserving candidates of the pleasure of ridding the world of Roland Voss? But then, as befits his paranoia, a condition he comes by honestly, by the way, he begins to smell a rat, and before its whiskers are quite out of its hole, the chase is on, one involving his fiancee, the unfortunately named Dr Sarah Slaughter, DS Jenny Dalziel, and the lawyer for the accused, Nicole Carrow, as well as assorted journalists and the accused themselves.

Brookmyre might be called the Michael Moore of tartan noir, only even funnier. Like Moore, he is passionately politically engaged and like Moore as well, he will sometimes bring the action to a screeching halt to develop a political point. But we forgive him, because most of the time he is dazzling in his language, his humour, and in the twists and turns of his narrative. As well, he confronts arrogance head-on, to reveal that its weakness is its persistent underestimate of ordinary folk. .I have only two warnings about Country of the Blind---it is written in the unmistakable accents of its native country and thus might well be incomprehensible to North American readers to whom both the politics and the idiom may be unfamiliar. You will probably get enough to make it worth the effort, however. The other warning is against reading this on public transport or anywhere else that strangers may be watching. It is funny enough, often enough, that your guffaws will draw attention.

This review refers to the UK re-issue of the 1998 paperback edition. It has just been released in the US.

Reviewed by Yvonne Klein, November 2002

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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