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by Peter Guttridge
Speck Press, October 2004
277 pages
ISBN: 0972577645

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Journalist Nick Madrid, in Montreal covering the Just for Laughs comedy festival, is practising his yoga when a beautiful, naked woman falls past his window on the 14th floor. She splatters into the pool, startling a man there who promptly dies of a heart attack.

Meanwhile, in his hotel room, Madrid has got himself into a knot (literally). He has tangled himself in his yoga position. The falling blonde caused him to lose his concentration and he fell over and couldn't get up. Three hours later, the maid comes in to clean the room and sees a naked man on the floor. When she realizes he isn't dead, she throws a towel over him and goes for help. Of course, this being a convention of comedians, Madrid is in for a lot of teasing.

Nick and two other journos, Frank Wyatt, the cliché drunken aging hack, and Bridget Frost, 'The Bitch of the Broadsheets', decide to turn private eye and try to figure out who killed Cissie Parker, who turns out to have been pregnant. While still in Montreal, they try to find which room she fell from. Then the festival is over, and the search goes from Montreal, back to Edinburgh and then on to Los Angeles.

There are some clever one-liners and slapstick situations in this, the first of the Nick Madrid series, first published in England in 1997. Once Guttridge gets that out of his system, the book settles down into a story of detection by the protagonists. Perhaps I expected too much of this author, since he had been so highly recommended to me, or perhaps I need a humour transplant, but the book left me with a feeling of "eh?". Also, Guttridge throws in the names of many British comedians, which might be confusing to American readers not familiar with BBC America. On the whole, I think Guttridge is an acquired taste.

Reviewed by Barbara Franchi, October 2004

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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