Christopher Brookmyre – Write on the Edge
Christopher Brookmyre is Scottish through and through; his sense of humour is pitch-black and wicked; his writing, edgy and his characters, gritty: All this results in a unique blend of crime and comedy the likes of which is hard to best; most often in a Scottish setting, where the weather is dreich; the inhabitants dreary; and normal life is incredibly dull – but not if you live between the pages of a Brookmyre book!
More often than not, his slightly-built anti-hero, Jack Parlabane, journalist extraordinaire, is pitted against those in power and throwing witty quips and insults at the bad guys that will have even the most discerning reader in stitches and gasping for breath.
If you want to read the stories featuring Jack Parlabane, you should read them in this order:
Quite Ugly One Morning begins with a corpse in a Glasgow flat and Parlabane, newly returned from America, just can’t resist poking his nose in where it’s bound to cause trouble and the dark underbelly of the medical profession is tickled to great effect.
In Country of the Blind a media mogul has been murdered and a couple of ne’er-do-wells have been fingered for the crime, but Jack’s not so sure they’ve got the right guys. Enter a young Edinburgh solicitor who claims she can prove their innocence, but someone powerful doesn’t want to truth to come to light…
Boiling a Frog sees Parlabane taking a break at Her Majesty’s Pleasure as well as taking on the might of the Catholic Church of Scotland and making enemies of pretty much everyone he meets.
Be My Enemy (or F*ck This for a Game of Soldiers) pokes fun at those Team Building Adventure Weekends that every corporate middle-manager dreads and gives ample reason why those weekends should cause apprehension and abject terror, as the visitors face death at every turn.
The others are all on-offs, but a couple of them feature recurring characters, so you should probably read them in this order:
In Not the End of the World, a Glaswegian photographer, an LA cop and a Porn Starlet go up against a media-savvy televangelist who has predicted a disaster that promises to wash the sinners of the Adult Movie business off the face of the planet. With terrorists causing bother and an oceanic research vessel going missing, the unlikely trio is going to have a lot on their plate!
If a school reunion is your idea of a nightmare-in-the-making, then One Fine Day in the Middle of the Night will be your idea of reading heaven! For twenty-four hours, the classmates are gathered together on an oil rig that’s been converted into a luxury resort, but is currently sitting in the Firth of Forth, awaiting departure to more exotic climes. In the meantime, there’s nowhere to run when the bullets start flying. It’s a chance for those who were voted Least Likely To Succeed to show exactly what they can do under pressure!
Can a secondary school English teacher best a notorious terrorist? In A Big Boy Did it & Ran Away, Raymond Ash gets a little more real life than he can handle when he stumbles onto the plans of The Black Spirit. With nothing but a background in computer games and an inability to get through to unruly teenagers, how can he possibly expect to get out of this alive?
My personal favourite to date is The Sacred Art of Stealing, which has quite possibly the best bank robbery ever committed to the page. The boundary between the Good Guys and the Bad Guys is cleverly blurred till you’re not sure who you should be rooting for, but you don’t care, because you know exactly who you want to win anyway!
Intrigue; espionage; advanced technology; clinical violence; hoovering: All Fun & Games Until Somebody Loses an Eye has all this and more. For every mother who’s wished they could have led a more exciting life; for every mum who would lay down their life for their kids – your representative is forty-six year old Jane Fleming, whose life is about to get a whole lot more exciting than she ever would have believed when her granddaughter is kidnapped.
A Tale Etched in Blood and Hard Black Pencil was immediately dubbed by Time Out Magazine, “The kind of thing that Agatha Christie might have written if she’d been off her tits on manky crack”. It lives up to the promise to be the type of edgy, seat-of-the-pants stuff we’ve come to expect from Mr. Brookmyre. Seriously – get hold of it – you won’t regret it! (Of course, you might want to read the others first, but that won’t be a chore either!)
If you love action, wise-cracking heroes, intelligent villains and more laughs than a pack of very-happy hyenas, Brookmyre delivers on every level; his writing is intelligent, never condescends and is consistently of the highest caliber. If you haven’t already picked up one of his books from the shelf, get your butt moving – you don’t know what you’re missing!
Written for The Book Club Forum by Kell Smurthwaite, 2006 ©
(edited 2007 ©)
Christopher Brookmyre’s latest book, Attack of the Unsinkable Rubber Ducks is also now available in hardback.