This Insubstantial Pageant Faded

You know what you’re going to get with a Christopher Brookmyre novel. An implausible plot, a dose of satire and some brilliant humour. Pleasingly his latest ‘A Snowball in Hell’ is well up to scratch.

‘Snowball’ is actually a sequel to 2 of his earlier books “A Big Boy Did It and Ran Away” and “The Sacred Art of Stealing” but I suspect that it will just about stand on its own.

Plot wise the book centres around police attempts to track down infamous (and believed to be dead) former indie rocker turned terrorist for hire Simon Dacourt as he takes reality shows to new extremes. There’s also an improbable romance between a (former) bank robber and the police woman who was supposed to apprehend him.

Did I say implausible? Suffice to say the book, within its own unlikely scenario, is tightly plotted and manages to keep its twists a surprise. It is also laugh aloud funny in places and can anyone really have a gripe with the targets of the satire including boy bands, pop svengalis and reality shows?

However that is perhaps the book’s only problem – the targets are very much of the soft variety particularly given that in the past Brookmyre has set about more far serious issues. There is a slight feeling at the end of this entertaining yarn that this won’t be the most enduring of his books. Literature it certainly isn’t but as a commentary on current British society it has more than a little relevance.

Myself and Mrs MPT were also lucky enough to catch Mr Brookmyre at the Edinburgh Book Festival a couple of weeks back and if anything he’s actually funnier in person than in print. These outings are really more of a stand-up show than a reading and the good news is that he’s out and about more promoting ‘Snowball’ in the coming weeks (Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee and Wishaw). So if you sympathise with his world view then you are guaranteed an entertaining hour or so in his company. Buy the book.

The book actually refers to the following song but it’s not clear if the author shares his assassin’s view on the original’s merits. However I’m not sure quite what Christopher (or Simon for that matter) would make of this version:

Echo & the Bunnymen – Rescue (The Mindwinder’s Remix) (from ‘It’s Alright’ CD single/B-sides and Live compilation) [Download it]

The Bunnymen have a new LP, ‘The Fountain’ due for release at some point. McCulloch has described the record as the heaviest the band have done and, inevitably, the best thing they’ve ever done. Do we believe him?


  1. jc says:

    The rule in this house is that mrs jc gets to read every new Brookmyre first of all before I get my hands on it. She’s laughing out loud with this one and telling me there’s bits I’m going to love as she’s heard me rant in a similar way…..

  2. Ed says:

    Oh, dammit, i’m trying to save money and you keep telling me about books I’m going to have to go and buy. Will have to add this one to my Amazon list…

  3. Yeah, that’s what I’ve done with an ever increasing list of books. I’m likely to point my increasingly internet savvy parents in that direction ahead of birthday and Christmas!

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