Sunday, April 5

Country of the Blind – Christopher Brookmyre

The murders of media tycoon Roland Voss, his wife and two bodyguards in a country manor house owned by the government sent a wave of (tabloid-fuelled) rage throughout England. The manhunt for the four men responsible is fevered; when they escape from a prison van, killing three guards in the process, the press bay for blood.
Only Nicole Carrow, a junior lawyer, believes the men are innocent, based on an envelope she was given by one of them the week before the bunged robbery. It’s only thanks to the conspiratorial instincts of investigative report Jack Parlabane that Nicole escapes a cunning attempt on her life and, working together, Nicole and Jack begin untangling a complicated plot that involves the highest levels of government.
The second in the Parlabane series, Country of the Blind is twisted, involving and quite brilliant. The dialogue snaps, the twists are unpredictable (particularly the two surprising and supremely rewarding occasions when hunter becomes hunted), and the tense pace is ferocious.
Brookmyre’s writing is always inclined toward the political, and Country of the Blind is no exception – set in Major’s Britain there’s a decided leftward lean I related to; the main thrust is grounded in EU reform, with decided distrust of government and big picture ideology and politics. The pivotal plot point was both convoluted and believable.
As with other of his novels, Brookmyre sprinkles humour and realism throughout. I was reminded of my own, eighties era activist past when one character’s recollections of (Thatcherite-era) youthful activism brought back memories of one group falling out with another

“over some minute point of interpreted socialist principle, and the Labour Group got shirty with the Marxist Group about what slogans to put on their placards, and the Intergalactic Socialists for a Marxist Universe started a spat with the Vegan Organic Hamster Protection League…”

It could be possible to overdose of Brookmyre, which is part of the reason why I’m pacing myself. The other is that my library seems not to have the third Parlabane novel and so I’ll have to request it. Strong, clear, funny, clever – if I’m not careful Brookmyre will be my favourite author of the year again. - Alex

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