Sunday, October 01, 2006

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

Author: Christopher Brookmyre
ISBN # 0316730106

Publisher: Little, Brown

First Published: 2006

344 pages

Rating: 8

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.

How well do we know our friends? Now think back - how well do we know the people we knew twenty years ago when we were kids? We spend a good twelve years of our lives spending every day, Monday to Friday, with the same people, yet does that mean anything at all when the chips are down? Do the opinions we form of people in the school playground have any bearing at all on the adults we become?

Brookmyre is, in my opinion (and it’s one that’s seemingly shared by quite a few folks), one of Britain’s greatest living satirists and his latest novel adds to this opinion in bucket-loads! Out of the darkest mind has come a gem of nostalgia that will tickle the funny bone of the most humourless soul; a murder mystery that has it’s roots firmly entrenched in the past, and a grim look at how we remember the people we thought we knew so well. There’s something in the kids that will strike a chord with every reader – everyone had a bampot Robbie, a smelly Ellie, a bitchy Jo-Jo, a smart-a*se Scot and a clever-clogs Martin – but what happens when they grow up? Do we all manage to throw off the persona we adopted in adolescence and become better people? Do we really learn from our past mistakes?

This is a must for any Brookmyre fan and if you’ve never read any of his novels before, this one is a stand-alone that will introduce you to his pitch-black style and leave you begging for more.


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