Yeah, yeah, the usual. A crime. A corpse. A killer. Heard it. Except this stiff happens to be a Ponsonby, scion of a venerable Edinburgh medical clan, and the manner of his death speaks of unspeakable things. Why is the body displayed like a slice of beef? How come his hands are digitally challenged? And if it's not the corpse, what is that awful smell? A post-Thatcherite nightmare of frightening plausibility, Quite Ugly One Morning is a wickedly entertaining and vivacious thriller, full of acerbic wit, cracking dialogue, and villains both reputed and shell-suited.
My return to series in the car is currently alternating between Terry Pratchett's Discworld books and all of Christopher Brookmyre's early work. Both of them are an utter joy to listen to, and a potential threat to life and limb.
Car journeys here are, by necessity, long. Everywhere is around an hour away - at 100ks, on country roads, dodging potholes big enough to lose the car in, huge grain or hay hauling trucks, assorted wildlife from the kill you type (kangaroos) to the don't you dare kill them ones (echidna's and blue tongue lizards at this time of the year). It requires concentration, it requires focus. Tricky when you're laughing so hard you're crying.
QUITE UGLY ONE MORNING does a particularly good line in funny - provided gross, grotty and silly are things you find funny. Hearing the more grotesque, grotty and silly things in this book being read out by David Tennant made it even funnier.
If possible I'd forgotten how much I love Christopher Brookmyre's books. I am alternating backwards and forwards between these and the Discworld novels. I might have to start driving more.
Whiskey From Small Glasses, Denzil Meyrick
DI Jim Daley is sent from the city to investigate a murder after the body of a woman is washed up on an idyllic beach on the West Coast of Scotland.
Far away from urban resources, he finds himself a stranger in a close knit community.
The investigation becomes more deadly as two more bodies are found.
Love, betrayal, fear and death stalk the small community, as Daley investigates a case that becomes more deadly than he could possibly imagine; in this compelling, beautifully written novel - infused with intrigue and dark humour.
WHISKEY FROM SMALL GLASSES is the first in the DI Jim Daley (yes he does go to the gym daily) and DS Brian Scott series, which I've started listening to, as opposed to reading, and very fine listening it is. Narrated by David Monteath, the series is now up to book 6.
Starting out with a good balance between introduction and set up of new characters, and an interesting investigation to be getting on with, WHISKEY FROM SMALL GLASSES comes with a unique setting and some dark humour into the bargain. There's also more than enough intrigue, marital issues, and police politics to keep a reader amused.
Set in a seemingly fictional version of Kinloch, one hundred and fifty "long way round" miles from Glasgow, the area has recently come under the overall control of the Strathclyde Police. Superintendent John Donald, once footsore copper and compatriot of Daley's, now his boss, is determined to get these remote outposts to step into line, so a murder case seems like the perfect opportunity to send Daley and Scott off to the countryside, get a quick turnaround on the case, and show these yokels a thing or two about effective policing. Not exactly the best timing for Daley's personal life as his marriage to the serially unfaithful Liz is tanking rapidly, his waistline is expanding and his reserves of patience sorely tried. When Liz lobs into Kinloch with her suspect brother-in-law in tow, it's the last thing Daley wants or needs, although the arrival of his investigating buddy, friend and sounding board Brian Scott, him of the highly colourful turn of phrase, and pointed turn of snark, has given Daley the friend and support he needs.
Listening to this novel washing past was a very enjoyable experience. There is a hefty concentration on Daley's problems with his marriage, enough that I'd have normally expected to be rapidly over it, but it does kind of work here. The concentration on the case, the friendship between Daley and Scott, the idiotic behaviour of the local police chief, all sort of slot together, making everyone feel real, and conflicted, and trying hard. With the Daley's being away from home, in a place where they are unknown there is always the hope that they might eventually decide whether it's a yes or no on the marriage. With Daley and Scott being in town, even though the body count does grow, there's always a feeling that there might not be Donald's longed for quick turnaround, but a resolution to the murders will be found. All the while there is the real feeling that Kinloch and it's people are working their way into Daley's admiration and life.
There is much more to these murders than originally thought, and things quickly go from a murder investigation to sorting out an international drug-trafficking ring, and at that point the investigative side of the novel does get a bit ropey, although where it's heading becomes obvious at the end. Write this one off to a major amount of set up for the rest of the series and you should be able to forgive things getting a bit messy, to say nothing of some very heavy darning to pull some threads into place.
Having now listened to the first couple of books in the series, I think I'll stick with them in audio format as the dialogue, the place names, even the thought patterns of the characters are quintessentially Scottish and part of the enjoyment was hearing it in just the right accent.