- File Size: 468 KB
- Print Length: 333 pages
- Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1981037349
- Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
- Publication Date: June 5, 2018
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B07D8YXWBY
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #339,769 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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This is a book that I was so pleased to be able to really get my teeth into. There is so much going on around and about the main thread regarding Mark's exposure as an undercover cop and the death of his former handler. The story is played out in the present and then another layer is added on with applicable flashbacks from the past in the form of separate vignettes, each relevant in some way to the big picture, some more so than others. The way the book is written came across to me as being such that there is quite a bit of observational matter presented and it is up to the reader, along with the main character, Paolo, to sort the wheat from the chaff so to speak. In amongst all of this there are some really very funny, often acerbic, one liners and I especially loved the sly digs at the BBC Breakfast program amongst others. Obviously being a bit of a political story in itself, there was a certain amount of political opinion on display from certain characters throughout the book, but these were by no means overpowering and the book remained completely balanced.
Characterisation was the thing that really made this book great for me. There are so many secrets, lies and duplicitous behaviour to be found throughout that there could have been a danger for the characters to become caricatures of themselves. Especially as a lot of the book was set around the friends' student days when things were a little OTT and more colourful. A time when they were also starting to mature(?) and find their place in the world. I also found it quite interesting meeting them in these early days and then fast forwarding to the present to see what became of them. How their "values" changed as they took steps into the real world.
The plotting was also very well done. I have already mentioned that there was quite a lot going on and my guessing skills were very much put to the test. Sadly, at the end of the day, they did let me down.
All in all, another worthy addition to what is building up to be quite a good back catalogue for this author. I have read all her previous books and can't wait to see what she serves up for her next course.
This book was a slow starter for me, but by about 20% I started to get more into it, and by half way through I was enjoying it a lot, and looking forward to getting back to it. The story dots back and forth in equal measure between the murder case and Paolo's life back in what I assume to be around 1984; gradually, the two stories merge. I found the murder/conspiracy plot and present day half of the book only moderately interesting, but loved the sections set in the old days ~ the desperate-to-be-hip-and-relevant characters and the atmosphere of the time were so real. The wannabe cool guy Paolo, terminally bored Isabel, spiky, chip-on-her-shoulder Claire and determinedly zany 'Ratman' are so well drawn, as was their dismissal of football-and-a-pint boy Graham, the odd man out. I loved how aspirational they all were, though over the years their aspirations changed ~ from the 'making a difference' cliché and being seen as authentic and academically inspired despite having been drunk/stoned/speeding/in bed with a stranger until 4 am the night before, to succeeding in the capitalist society they once claimed to despise.
What kept me reading was the astute observations, and the slow unfolding of the changing dynamic between the friends - I actually would have been happy with just this as a novel, with maybe just the security officer murder aspect; Ms Vane's understanding of her characters is good enough to carry a less sensational plot. Only two aspects grated a tiny bit ~ in the 1980s Claire is meant to be a working class girl from Durham, but she talks like a middle class girl from the south; there is no trace of the North East in any of her dialogue. Also, they all refer to 'uni' instead of 'university' ~ aside from the fact that it's ghastly, I am not sure people had started doing so in the early-mid 1980s. I believe it originated from Aussie soap operas; the first time I heard it was around 1989.
To sum up, I'd give 3* to the 'main' story which, for me, had too many long conversations with people explaining to each other why things happened and how they found them out, but 4.5* with some 5* moments to the whole 1980s element ~ thus, I shall round up at 4*. I didn't love it all but I liked it (some parts very much), and it's definitely worth a read. Especially if you were a student in the 1980s, I should think.
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