Monday, April 21, 2008

Ducking and dying

Just been indulging myself with another Christopher Brookmyre, Attack of the Unsinkable Rubber Ducks. Set in and around my alma mater and familiar bits of Glasgow's West End, this is an ingenious foray into the world of psychics and mediums, which for much of its narrative has you wondering as to the exact state of its principal narrator, Jack Parlabane.

Using several points of view, the story blows a mighty wind through the mists of psychic readings and is genuinely gripping as it approaches the denouement. I love the cocky Parlabane, who first appeared in Quite Ugly One Morning, and I enjoyed picturing my old haunts thinly disguised as Kelvin University. As usual, I have the feeling that the spattering of very topical allusions in the dialogue will render these books ephemeral, but I shouldn't imagine Brookmyre worries about that.

This is a cracking good story with, perhaps, rather less of the laddishness of earlier books - which the author apparently felt made them an unsuitable read for someone's mother.

As the blurb has it: death is not the end - it's the ultimate undercover assignment.


  1. Ruth Blakley11:12 AM

    My sister worked with Chris Brookmyre at Wishaw General Hospital. She gave Donald one of his books for his birthday - A Tale Etched in Blood and Hard Black Pencil - and got Chris to sign it for him. I started to read Quite Ugly One Morning but as I'm not the best reader in the world, I gave up...MUST TRY HARDER!

  2. Someone recommend Brookmyr to me and I've read a couple of his books ("One Fine Day in the Middle of the Night" and "Be My Enemy" I think). I enjoyed them... but haven't rushed out to get more. I couldn't quite suspend my disbelief to cope with the transition from every day character to Rambo style weapons expert. However, a fan told me that's exactly what she liked best about his stuff!

    Should I give him another try?

  3. David, I must confess to being a bit of a fan, and for much that same reason. And there is a good deal of earthy realism in the dialogue and settings to counteract the other stuff. Mainly, however, I find them to be sufficiently well written for me to forget about the mechanics; the first of his books creaked slightly but he's improved, IMO. I've read them all; I liked "The country of the Blind" because it reminded me of Buchan's Thirty-nine Steps in its fugitive/hunt bits.

  4. I just discovered Brookmyre last year via my bookclub - would never have found him otherwise. It was "All fun and games until someone loses an eye". It was a light read, but so tongue-in-cheek that I chuckled through it. Great holiday book, nice escapism. I notice David says the move from everyday to Rambo-style weapons expert is too difficult to accept ... he he ... how does he know that doesn't happen every day, then????