22 08 2015

Flesh Wounds by Christopher Brookmyre


Private investigator Jasmine Sharp’s father was murdered before she was born, and her mother went to self-sacrificing lengths in order to shield her from the world in which he moved. Since her mother’s death, all she has been able to learn is his first name – and that only through a strange bond she has forged with the man who killed him: Glen Fallan. But when Fallan is arrested for the murder of a criminal her mother knew since childhood, Jasmine is finally forced to enter his domain: a place where violence is a way of life and vengeance spans generations.

Detective Superintendent Catherine McLeod has one major Glaswegian gangster in the mortuary and another in the cells for killing him – which ought to be cause for celebration. Catherine is not smiling, however. From the moment she discovered a symbol daubed on the victim’s head, she has understood that this case is far more dangerous than it appears on the surface: deeper than skin, darker than blood; something that could threaten her family and end her career.

As one battles her demons and the other chases her ghosts, these two very different detectives will ultimately confront the secrets that have entangled both of their fates since before Jasmine was even born.

Another outstanding thriller from Brookmyre. Intricate plotting and a quite compelling narrative with characters who have grown since earlier outings make this a really good read.


Devilish fun

11 01 2014

When the Devil Drives by Christopher Brookmyre


Is the devil merely the name we give the worst in ourselves? Or is there an evil in this world older than society, a force that corrupts men and feeds off their sins?

This is not a question that has ever much concerned private investigator Jasmine Sharp, but that changes when she is hired to find Tessa Garrion, a young woman who turns out to be not merely long lost, but vanished without trace. It becomes increasingly clear that there are some who want her to stay that way.

What begins as a simple search awakens a malevolence that has lain dormant for three decades, placing Jasmine in the crosshairs of those who’ll stop at nothing to keep their secrets buried. As she uncovers a hidden history of sex, drugs, ritualism and murder, which links the well-appointed salons of Glasgow’s high society to the lowest depths of the underworld, Jasmine realises she may need a little help from the dark side herself if she’s going to get to the truth.

All good far-fetched fun and a classic Brookmyre yarn.

3 star

A back to school tale

1 09 2012

A Tale Etched in Blood and Hard Black Pencil by Christopher Brookmyre

We could tell you about the bodies. We could tell you their names, where they were found, the state they were in. We could tell you about the suspects too, the evidence, the investigators; join a few dots, even throw you a motive. But what would be the point? You’re going to make your own assumptions anyway. After all, you know these people, don’t you? You went to school with them. We all did. Granted, that was twenty years ago, but how much does anybody really change? Exactly. So if you really knew them then, you’ll already have all the answers. If you really knew them then Put on your uniform and line up in an orderly fashion for the funniest and most accurate trip back to the classroom you are likely to read, as well as a murder mystery like nothing that has gone before it. Forget the forensics: only once you’ve been through school with this painfully believable cast of characters will you be equipped to work out what really happened decades later. Even then, you’ll probably guess wrong and be made to stand in the corner.

I really quite enjoyed this one. Split between West of Scotland school days in the 70s and 80s and some more contemporary criminal investigations it manages to convey perfectly many of the primary and secondary experiences I recall (albeit in a non-denominational East coast high school) and then bring the relationships bang up to date. Full marks for the school years but the here and now seems, unfortunately, a bit weaker and not quite up to normal Brookmyre standards. Still a good yarn though and well worth a go.

Offshore capers

29 03 2012

One Fine Day in the Middle of the Night by Christopher Brookmyre

Gavin is creating a unique ‘holiday experience’, every facility any tourist who hates abroad will ever want, will all be available on a converted North Sea oil rig. To test the facilities he’s hosting a reunion for his old school (none of his ex-classmates can remember him, but what the heck, it’s free). He is so busy showing off that he doesn’t notice that another group have invited themselves along — a collection of terrorist mercenaries who are occasionally of more danger to themselves than to the public. And they in turn are unaware that Inspector MacGregor has got wind of their activities. Within twenty-four hours Gavin’s dream has blown to the four winds, along with a lot of other things. Fast, rabidly funny, and seriously over the top.

It’s another highly entertaining and darkly comic romp from Brookmyre who seems to have made this genre his own. All utterly preposterous but really good fun (apart from all of the unfortunate deaths, of course).

Thieving honorably

22 12 2011

The Sacred Art of Stealing by Christopher Brookmyre

Their eyes met across a crowded room. She was just a poor servant girl and he was the son of a rich industrialist. Er, no, this is a Christopher Brookmyre novel, although the eyes meeting across a crowded room part is true. Where it differs from the fairy tales is that the room in question was crowded with hostages and armed bank-robbers, and his eyes were the only part of him she could see behind the mask. He is an art-thief par excellence and she is a connoisseur of crooks. Her job is to hunt him to extinction; his is to avoid being caught and he also has a secret agenda more valuable than anything he might steal. There are risks he can take without jeopardising his plans. He can afford to play cat-and-mouse with the female cop who’s on his tail; it might even arguably be necessary. What he can’t afford is to let her get too close: he could could end up in jail or, even more scary, he could end up in love

Brookmyre is a pretty impressive writer and I must admit I really enjoy his intelligent and pacy thrillers. This one is no exception and is certainly one of his better ones. I suspect he is particularly pleased with the endorsements from two leading literary journals:

‘If you enjoy intelligently written crime thrillers with a healthy dollop of satire, then this will be the answer to your prayers.’ MORNING STAR


‘An entertaining read.’ NEW WOMAN

Just plain crazy

7 12 2010

Pandaemonium by Christopher Brookmyre

A first person shoot ’em up as a novel. From the Amazon summary:

St Peter’s High School has a problem with its senior pupils – how to help them deal with death of a fellow pupil? The answer (it’s decided) is to be a cloistered retreat at an outdoor activity centre – it will be there, through the aid of programmes of counselling, discussion groups and (of course) prayer – St Peter is a religious school — that the pupils will be able to adjust. Needless to say, the pupils themselves have other ideas – sex and general misbehaviour being their primary aims. But near the retreat, a highly secret military operations is in train — one, unusually, that has the services of a religious adviser (and an eccentric one at that). Appropriate, as the experiment involves nothing less than the untrammelling of the forces of the netherworld. The pupils will find themselves fighting for their lives.

An entertaining mix of gore, teen angst and sci fi nonsense, this is a pretty good read with a distinct Brookmyre flavour, but a bit uneven and quite bonkers in all sorts of ways. Read on iPad using Kindle app.

Rubber ducking

22 12 2008

Attack of the unsinkable rubber ducks


Highly entertaining stuff – good suspense and a few twists along the way. Complete ruthless demolition of cranks, fortune tellers and the spiritualist world – perhaps too determined though as it does feel like polemic at times (entirely legitimate but not quite the right place).

3 star

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