Mystery Books for Sale

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


by J.J. Connolly
Gerald Duckworth, September 2011
416 pages
12.99 GBP
ISBN: 0715641387

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

In VIVA LA MADNESS the anonymous narrator of Connolly's LAYER CAKE is persuaded to return to London as a negotiator on behalf of a major drugs wholesaler, despite the continued interest of the Metropolitan police in his whereabouts. But even before his arrival, he finds himself saddled with a couple of unwelcome intermediaries, and it soon becomes apparent that several Venezuelan parties have an interest in the activities of his British business partners.

With the Venezuelans becoming rapidly more pressing and violent, our hero needs to find out what exactly has been going on. Unexpected revelations come thick and fast. Our man manages to emerge from several lethal excitements unscathed and looks to have engineered a deal which will set him up for life, but fate has a way of intervening…

Not having read LAYER CAKE I'm relieved of the need to say how VIVA LA MADNESS compares but it certainly manages to stand on its own two feet. The story rattles along ferociously and the steady pace of discovery of important pieces of back story is coupled with frequent doses of grisly action. Use of the present tense throughout adds to the immediacy and urgency.

The chief protagonists have interests that only partially coincide; every discussion is a tense negotiation in which each is concealing at least some of what he knows whilst trying to glean information from others and persuade them to a course of action that is not necessarily in their best interests. This is forcefully reported in a crude spoken language larded with modern London argot that certainly feels appropriate. Readers have to make their own judgements about the accuracy of much of the technical detail in the fields of illegal drug wholesaling, money laundering and high-tech fraud. As a complete amateur in such matters, I certainly found nothing to puncture the illusion.

There are several action scenes in the book and with one exception these are conveyed very effectively, although one where the hero and Mort, a confederate, take a drive out of town, suffered from some confusing detail. Whilst on the motorway, Mort, the driver, suddenly 'jerks the wheel down hard to the left and sends the motor hurtling across three lanes, from the inside to the outside'. Mort is then 'heading for the slip road off the dual carriageway.... ' The inversion of the usual understanding that the outside lane is the one on the right, coupled with the sudden transformation from three lanes to two, throws a large spanner in the works of reality and demonstrates the perils of not double-checking that action scenes actually make sense.

§ Chris Roberts is a retired manager of shopping centres in Hong Kong, and now lives in Bristol, primarily reading.

Reviewed by Chris Roberts, November 2011

[ Top ]



Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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