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by Christopher Brookmyre
Time Warner, May 2001
402 pages
6.99 GBP
ISBN: 0751531820

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Investigative journalist Jack Parlabane, breaks his promise to his wife and breaks into the headquarters of the Scottish Catholic Church. He's been set up so, of course, he is caught and thrown into jail. He and Sarah had a misunderstanding, which is one of the reasons he broke his promise in the first place.

In jail. he meets all sorts of strange creatures, until he finally ends up as the cellmate of Mike Briggs, a large, surprisingly well read man, who takes Jack under his wing and teaches him the ways to survive in prison.

Meanwhile, on the outside, Sarah Parlabane, an anesthesiologist, is worried. Jack is too proud to phone her. Also, political machinations within the Scottish National Party are getting really complicated and spinning wildly out of control. Elspeth Doyle, a Catholic laboour member of the Scottish Parliament is paged to go to a strange flat to help another member. When she gets there, it appears that she was not the one requested, but another MSP with the same initials. But she is the one who shows up. Peter Logan, another New Labour MSP who is known for family values has an electric vibrator up his bum and his surgeon lover cannot get it out. Elspeth has to keep the incident quiet because Peter wants to remain the poster boy for family values. She manages to get him to a hospital in an uproarious scene involving, as one might expect from a Brookmyre book, lots of scatological references.

Brookmyre deflates and deconstructs both organized religion and organized politics in this extremely funny commentary. It is really impossible to give an organized precis of the novel. If you have a slight knowledge of the UK political scene, with especial reference to Scottish devolution, then you will find this book of especial interest. However, I think even those with no knowledge of the specific politics, will find this over-the-top commentary very funny.

Reviewed by Barbara Franchi, September 2003

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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