Mystery Books for Sale

[ Home ]
[ About | Reviews | Search | Submit ]


by Christian Thompson
Allison and Busby, December 2003
246 pages
ISBN: 0749006625

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

There are some books that are just too damn clever for their own good. But Christian Thompson's SING NO SAD SONGS avoids this charge by the skin of its teeth.

So you thought you'd seen every permutation of PI possible? Well, Thompson's hero Chris O'Brien is a former mental health nurse-turned PI who is into martial arts, philosophy and has a rainbow coalition of PC friends to help him out of scrapes -- I particularly prized the moment where the Asian (in the British sense) lesbian reveals with a flourish that she is also disabled!

But how can you dislike a man who has his tongue firmly in his cheek for parts of the book, and says at one point: "If you're starting to think that I don't know any straight, white, English Protestants -- then you're probably right. This is Bradford. They tend to keep themselves to themselves and not bother anyone."

Thompson juggles two plots. Both are miles apart in more ways than one, but even though it's not the most seamless of joins, it never seems to matter much, due to the writer's energy and ability to spin a thoroughly entertaining tale.

At home in Bradford O'Brien discovers that a woman he knew from his nursing days has killed herself, and he sets out to find out why -- particularly when people try to blacken his reputation. And he finds himself shuttling between the north and London (where black vegan student girlfriend Debra lives) to nail the far-right gang who are responsible for vicious race attacks and an attempted murder.

The culmination of the race plot is highly unlikely, and both funny and scary at the same time -- no mean feat! The eclectic bunch of friends brings to mind John Baker's supporting cast in the Sam Turner novels. And Thompson reminds me very much of another northern English writer, Stuart Pawson. Both have a distinctive 'voice' and write cheery, chirpy dialogue. And while that's mainly a compliment, like Pawson, the breezy, often flip tone makes it difficult to pull back when something grim happens -- and there are certainly enough of those moments in SING NO SAD SONGS.

OK, minor whinge over. I liked the book lots. More, please!

Reviewed by Sharon Wheeler, May 2004

[ Top ]



Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

[ About | Reviews | Search | Submit ]
[ Home ]