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by Christopher Brookmyre
Little, Brown, August 2007
352 pages
16.99 GBP
ISBN: 0316730122

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Jillian Noble, wife of the Education Minister, is also a journalist. She has observed some strange occurrences one night at Glassford Hall, the home of Bryant Lemuel, a furniture tycoon who is one of the richest men in England.

He had as weekend guests, among others, American psychic Gabriel Lafayette and his scientist friend Easy Mather. As the evening progressed, Lafayette charmingly debunked those "ghastly TV mediums". It turned out that Lafayette and Mather wanted to set up a series of scientific experiments research psi phenomena. After a short while, the temperature seemed to drop in the dining room, the lights dimmed, and the voice of Lemuel's dead wife was heard, answering questions no one but she and her husband would know. Bryant Lemuel immediately went about attempting to establish a Spiritual Science Chair at Kelvin University.

Jack Parlabane is "pan-breid" (dead) in rhyming slang, but he narrates the next part of the story, which starts a year or so after the incident at Glassford Hall. He gives his history in a couple of paragraphs, so if you haven't read the previous Parlabane novels, you have enough information to be going on with. Jack had been elected rector of Kelvin University, following the rectorship of Gabriel Lafayette. He goes to a student flat just as the police are taking two bodies out.

As Jack says: "I've seen some pretty squalid student gaffs in my time . . .The whole tenement floor had been subdivided and subdivided again; the plumbing work probably looked like the inside of Terry Gilliam's head . . ."

The story goes back and forth in first-person narrative between Jillian Noble, Jack Parlabane and one of the young men who lived in that flat, all the while telling the story of Gabriel Lafayette and Easy Mather.

If you have any doubts on which side Brookmyre falls, just look at the dedication, but Brookmyre is a master at deception. The Parlabane novels are not my favorite of the Brookmyre books, but this one is an exception. The changing first person narrative is a bit confusing at first, but this is a story that could only be told in this manner. I am not a fan of Terry Pratchett, but Christopher Brookmyre is a never-miss for me.

Reviewed by Barbara Franchi, July 2007

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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