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Is this the future for Europe? I hope not!
Incompetence - Rob Grant
Member Name: Essexgirl2006
Incompetence - Rob Grant
Advantages: Easy to read, quite amusing
Disadvantages: Some parts can be laborious
About the author:
Rob Grant is best known as co-creator of the cult show Red Dwarf, as well as writing various other comedy shows. Incompetence is his second novel.
At some point in the not to distant future in the United States of Europe, the following article is passed:
"Article 13199 of the Pan European Constitution: 'No Person shall be prejudiced from employment in any capacity, at any level, by reason of age, race, creed or incompitence" (sic)
Thus it is not possible to sack someone for not being any good at their job anymore. Detective Harry Salt (to give just one of his alias) is actually quite competent but must deal with endless ineptitude in order to do his job, and this time the murderer he is trying to track down is also very competent. The book takes us (and Harry) to Rome (via the wrong airport as the pilot got lost), Paris and Vienna on the trace of this rather efficient killer. On his way Harry will meet an armed police chief with anger management issues, a mortician with an unusual hobby and various staggering levels of beaurocracy.
In parts the book is funny, but it is very much a one-joke book and accounts of some of Harry's altercations with officialdom and other incompetents can be a bit laborious, you are wishing the author would just get on with the story as we have already established the character is a bit of an idiot. There are no deep characters here, we don't really get to know Harry or anyone he comes into contact with on anything more than a superficial level; it is not that type of book. The book is a comedy book and though mainly is witty and amusing I did not find it laugh out loud funny as others have (maybe it is me - I liked Red Dwarf but wasn't as fanatical as some)! I have read funnier and more original works. By the end this book is almost a pastiche of itself, although I suspect that may be intentional. The book is very easy to read though. Apart from some frustrating and long-winded pages involving various imbeciles or officialdom that take a long time to resolve, the book runs at a cracking pace. There is not much dialogue but the story is told from Harry's perspective. Grant seems to try and make the murder solving as part of the book, but it is almost a sub-plot rather than an integral part. I didn't guess who the perpetrator was but then I didn't try, I didn't think of it as important, I was more interested in what particular type of idiot Harry would come across next. The imaginative crimes really are excuses for Harry's adventures in trying to travel across Europe in shoes made of vegetables.
Did I enjoy it? Mostly yes. As I have already said, it is not the funniest book I have read, although it is amusing generally. Some parts of the book can be as frustrating to read as they supposedly were for Harry Salt to endure, but he is ficticious. It is easy to read but will never be classified as a classic.
The book was first published by BCA in 2003 and has an RRP of £6.99 but there are offers available on both Amazon and Play.
Summary: A good, witty read with some frustrating parts