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by Christopher Brookmyre
Abacus, June 1999
400 pages
ISBN: 0349109281

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

NOT THE END OF THE WORLD was the first of Christopher Brookmyre's books to be published in the US. And also, the first one to take place in that country, if you consider Los Angeles and its environs to be part of the US.

An oceanographic research vessel is discovered drifting in the Pacific, with no one on board and the remains of a meal on the table, just like the Marie Celeste. The Coast Guard are called and the ship is towed to Long Beach, where Maria, a seismologist from the institute that sent out the ship comments that the submarine, the Stella Maris, used by the ship is missing as well as the personnel.

Sgt Larry Freeman, recently transferred to Santa Monica, has been assigned to the Pacific Vista Hotel where the American Feature Film Marketing Board is holding their annual meeting. (Most of the films produced by the members of the AFFM are direct to video porn films). When he gets there, he finds that the Santa Monica Festival of Light '99 is in a parking lot directly across the street from the PV Hotel and he fears there will be some problem between the American Legion of Decency, who are hosting the festival, and the porn merchants.

Steff Kennedy, a Scotsman, has been assigned as a photographer to the Marketing Board meeting and he meets with his journalist, Jo Mooney, who impishly suggests that Steff would like to stay in West Hollywood, since everything nearer is sold out. Steff is gobsmacked by the architecture of the hotel, with its glass-enclosed rooftop swimming pool, and by the evangelicals across the road, with their toothpaste ad smiles and their Christian rock group.

This book is a totally irreverent look at the American right-wing evangelical Christian world and its desire to get its own way, no matter what, and the weirdoes who sell badly made smutty movies, with a crack or two at the Beteljuice type architecture of Southern California. It may not have the Brookmyre patented catchy opening page, but it does have some scatological humor and a passing reference to Jack Parlabane. Brookmyre also takes the usual preprogrammed responses ... Christians good, pornographers bad, and makes one think. Not his funniest book, but perhaps his most thoughtful one.

Reviewed by Barbara Franchi, November 2003

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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