In truth I’m not the reader I think I should be and I’m not the reader a writer really should be. You learn from others, both good and bad. But new years and resolutions and all that good stuff comes along and I’ve just finished a book
Quite Ugly One Morning
You read the blurb and, well, it feels a bit generic
Yeah, yeah, the usual. A crime. A corpse. A killer. Heard it. Except this stiff happens to be a Ponsonby, scion of a venerable Edinburgh medical clan, and the manner of his death speaks of unspeakable things. Why is the body displayed like a slice of beef? How come his hands are digitally challenged? And if it’s not the corpse, what is that awful smell?
A post-Thatcherite nightmare of frightening plausibility, QUITE UGLY ONE MORNING is a wickedly entertaining and vivacious thriller, full of acerbic wit, cracking dialogue and villains both reputed and shell-suited.
You have a hard bitten, but inevitably charming journalist whose track record gets him leaving cities with the customary rapidity; you have the cynic cop and the understanding yet misunderstood cop; you have the linked love interest. Raymond Chandler it ain’t.
No, it’s Christopher Brookmyre who ladles out the gore like a frenzied soup kitchen employee on piece work payments. The opening scene does visceral a disservice and he describes it so well it’s rather as if you have stepped into a scratch and sniff version. The awful smell referred to? Don’t ask.
Sound like your sort of book? Too much detail? Gratuitous violence?
Actually no. More realistic and, and here’s the thing, it made me laugh. It made me want to write it and that truly is a compliment. It’s not a book to plot spoil, of course, but the murder referenced in the blurb is carried out by a hit man who has to be the unluckiest killer about. His travails are both believable and smile-inducing.
The thing about these sorts of books is you need to believe it when a non cop is the person most likely to get to the answer and, here, that works well. It’s a well-crafted crime caper, it’s funny and it moves at pace. Jack Parlabane is a believable character as are the gay cop and unsettled ex. It’s not for everyone, granted but if you want to smile as well as see how the caper unfolds then this might be for you.