Today’s book review of a crime novel is brought to you by yours truly, Morgen Bailey. If you’d like your book reviewed or to send me a book review of another author’s book, see book-reviews for the guidelines. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog.
Attack of the Unsinkable Rubber Ducks by Christopher Brookmyre
That was Jack Parlabane’s stance on the matter, anyway. But this was before he found himself in the more compromising position of being not only dead himself, but worse: dead with an exclusive still to file. From his position on high, Parlabane relates the events leading up to his demise, largely concerning the efforts of charismatic psychic Gabriel Lafayette to reconcile the scientific with the spiritual by submitting to controlled laboratory tests. Parlabane is brought in as an observer, due to his capacities as both a sceptic and an expert on deception, but he soon finds his certainties crumbling and his assumptions turned upside down as he encounters phenomena for which he can deduce no rational explanation. Perhaps, in a world in which he can find himself elected rector of an esteemed Scottish university, anything truly is possible. One thing he knows for certain, however: Death is not the end – it’s the ultimate undercover assignment.
Review (of the audiobook)
I had to listen to the beginning a couple of times and thought it was a female main character and found it slow going. I then Googled the Amazon page so I could find the synopsis and see what the book was about. An info. dump at the beginning is always a no-no but for a reader to be confused – me, anyway – isn’t a good thing.
It starts with Jack Parlabane’s first person narration of Gillian Noble and her biog of psychic Gabriel LaFayette and the spooky events taking place at Glassford Hall on 7th October 2003, lead by LaFayette.
The bodies of two students are later found and put down to a faulty boiler. One of the boys is linked to LaFayette and I thought the story was finally getting going (and be interesting) but we’re again swamped with backstory, then another of LaFayette’s stage shows and those of another, as skilled but far less famous, psychic.
The novel was far too narrator-heavy and some of Billy Boyd’s accents didn’t ‘work’. It took far too long getting to the events with a novice writer’s mistake of backstory for the first couple of chapters with a little action but then more narration (witterings). I carried on listening partway through CD2 (out of 5) but lost the will and gave up because of the – as the main character confessed to – self-indulgent (and full of swearing) rambling.
I rarely give up on a book, especially when I’m listening to it while walking my dog but as the cliché goes, life’s too short… for bad writing. It’s a shame I didn’t get to find out the relevance of the title (there’s no Wikipedia page to help) but I’ll live with that.
Rating: 2 out of 5.
Based in Northamptonshire, England, Morgen Bailey (“Morgen with an E”) is a prolific blogger, podcaster, editor / critiquer, Chair of NWG (which runs the annual H.E. Bates Short Story Competition), Head Judge for the NLG Flash Fiction Competition and creative writing tutor for her local county council. She is also a freelance author of numerous ‘dark and light’ short stories, novels, articles, and very occasional dabbler of poetry. Like her, her blog, https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com, is consumed by all things literary. She is also active on Twitter, Facebook along with many others (listed on her blog’s Contact page). She also recently created five online writing groups and an interview-only blog.
Her debut novel is the chick lit eBook The Serial Dater’s Shopping List ($0.99 / £0.77) and she has six others (mostly crime) in the works. She also has eight collections of short stories available (also $0.99 / £0.77 each) – detailed on https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/books-mine/short-stories.
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If you would like to send me a book review of another author’s books or like your book reviewed (short stories, contemporary crime / women’s novels or writing guides), see book-reviews for the guidelines. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog. And I post writing exercises every weekday on four online writing groups.