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Mr Kitchen, I seem to be missing something here. Correct me if Im wrong. But this is my home, my flat. You came in here uninvited, acting for all the world like one of the less civilised contestants on Through the Keyhole, insulting me, insulting my work . And somehow this means that I am rude?
Life was damn near perfect for the unnamed protagonist in Charles Higsons` Getting rid of Mr Kitchen, He was about to hit the big time in the world of interior design, his nice flat situated in affluent St Johns Wood and money in the bank meant that a steady stream of hard drugs and soft women were always on hand to entertain him. Yes, all was going swimmingly. Damn then that bloody stupid, insistently rude and seemingly ignorant Mr Kitchen; Damn him because he insisted on trying to buy the Saab, damn him for looking down his nose at the modern decorative style of the flat, and damn him for winding up the soon to be big in interiors man of the story to such an extent that a £600 sharpened designer candlestick had to be stuck just beneath his ribs! It did the job though in shutting up Mr Kitchen once and for all, but all sorts of problems presented themselves as Mr Kitchen twitched feebly and spewed crimson life fluid onto an expensive rug. With a bunch of photographers and a reporter due at the flat that same afternoon to do a piece for the Observer our protagonist had little time to spare, but just how do you get rid of a body in this day and age?
By this stage Id really had enough. So, as he came at me with the bottle, I picked up a candlestick and stuck it in him. The leading point went in just beneath the ribs. His eyes and mouth went very wide; it was something of a Frankie Howard look.
A series of options presented themselves; the easiest and most effective would be to load the deceased Mr Kitchen into the boot of the Saab and deposit him in an old disused chemical lake about two hours drive from St Johns Wood, but here is where the trouble starts. Running out of petrol when you have a cadaver in your car is never going to make life easy, and when you have your wallet stolen as you walk to the petrol station you just know that things are going to get worse before they get better. Not to worry, with a steady stream of Cocaine, sulphate and weed our protagonist was soon on top of the situation again, and the bright idea of borrowing some cash from the woman he dumped a couple of years back must of seemed like a stroke of genius at the time, that is until the shock of seeing him again sent her into labour! And so it continues, one step forward is quickly followed by two larger steps backwards as the protagonist resorts to ever more desperate plans to dispose of Mr Kitchen, he gets into fights, scraps and even tries his hand at kidnapping in his quest to carry out the deed. But as his weariness grows he is beginning to realise that some days you just cant get rid of a body!
I sat on the sofa and wondered what to do. I needed to think straight, because it was dawning on me that perhaps killing him hadnt been such a great idea. I mean, you do understand that at the time I had no choice?
Well who would have believed that Charlie Higson he of the fast show fame could turn his hand to writing a book? And whats more he succeeds in producing a funny, enjoyable and immensely readable story. The story is well paced so that the reader is never allowed to get too comfortable with any given situation as it is sure to change in no time. The characters are exquisitely described so that we know their fears and foibles almost straight away. Interestingly the reader never gets to know the name of the protagonist of the book, and such was the clever way this is done that I only realised that fact when I came to write this review! The story itself is narrated by the aforementioned character which gives a real sense of the fear and frustration that the killing of Mr Kitchen and subsequent attempts to dispose of his body bring. The story does read like a farce at times and may even verge on the fantastical in some peoples minds but the very fact that the story concentrates on a killing and then hiding the evidence meant that in my view it was more of a work of fiction that anything else to start with. The twists and turns within the story are a work of genius, and leave the reader wondering just how much the protagonist can take before cracking up completely.
Right now I needed to be calm and rational and clear-headed, so the first thing to do was to drink another large measure of whisky, and have a thick line of coke
Little surprise then that I thoroughly enjoyed this book; it appealed to my slightly dark and twisted sense of humour and kept me turning the page in morbid anticipation of what on earth would happen next. The chapters are long enough without being gargantuan and the text flows freely. Yes you do have to suspend belief now and again and yet each of the disastrous episodes could theoretically happen if you were having the day from hell. I finished the book with a smile on my face and the thought that however bad my life may or may not have been it has never sunk to the depths of the narrator. And I guess the real test of this books appeal is that I now aim to read Charlie Higsons other three books, such was his skill at grabbing my attention and making me smile and wince in quick succession. Four stars out of five then from me with the recommendation that if you enjoy authors like Dominic Holland and Tony Hawks you will enjoy Charlie Higson as well.
219 Pages Soft back
Published by Abacus
£5.59 from Amazon.co.uk