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I recently found myself without a new book to crack open - horror. So off to the library it was with me.
I was hoping against hope that the first Game of Thrones book would be on offer, but given that my local library is tiny at best and probably not blessed with overly generous councillors, I wasn't massively surprised to find that I was out of luck on that front. I have become jaded enough of Dean Koontz to not even bother to see if they had any titles of his that I hadn't yet read, and my other hopeful searches of various authors or titles threw up nothing. I was about to leave empty-handed, and very disappointed, detouring via the charity shop to see what they could offer.
Then a little touch of fate intervened. Unwittingly, some library assistant happened to choose a particular book for display that made me pause. I picked it up, intrigued by its quirky cover. I read the blurb. I was intrigued further. I had never heard of the author, but I decided to take a chance, and encouraged by my rebellious decision, I searched out another book, equally unknown to me, equally quirky enough in its description to pique my curiosity.
And this is why I implore you, if you haven't already, to join your local library if you love a good book. Why I hadn't years early is a mystery to me now, but I joined up to mine about six months ago and even with their limited resources I am so glad I did. These are a luxury, not a right in these times, and a prime candidate for council cuts, so please support yours. Both of these books were a genuine treat to read, and introduced me to authors that were perfect for my taste and humour. Here are me thoughts on the book that caught my eye, Life, Liberty & The Pursuit of Sausages by Tom Holt.
Holt was born in London, and crafts quirky, unique tales which often put a new angle or spin on a myth or common social concept. He does write 'straight' as Thomas Holt, although his humorous popular novels together compile a back catalogue so long that I wonder how I had never heard of him before now.
This book was first published in 2011, so if anyone tries it and takes to it they are in the lucky position to have plenty more books to fall back on rather than waiting in frustration as the author creates his next masterpiece.
***A COMEDY OF TRANSDIMENSIONAL TOMFOOLERY***
Well, that subtitle is what sealed the deal for me. For one thing, the word 'tomfoolery' is tragically underused in this era of modernity - bring back chivalry, chaps, spiffing and walking canes while you're at it.
The cover is bright red with the titles and cover illustrations in black and white. Sillhouetted in white is a pig, two hens and a human - and there's a human hand holding a plunger. Eh? Indeed.
Meet Polly. She's a lawyer at a real estate firm which sells massive amounts of new-build properties in a development with terrible road names. She also thinks she's going bonkers. Someone keeps drinking her coffee, or making coffee she doesn't want, and soon it looks like someone is also using her diary. As if serious misgivings about her own mental health were not enough, she's also getting roped into the firm's darts team rivalry with another company. Great.
She's also getting careless. She's lost the drycleaner's. Not the stuff she needs to take to one, the drycleaner's itself. Its gone.
Her hopeless brother, Don, gets sent by Polly to see if he can find the mysteriously disappearing drycleaner's - on the plus side, whilst his finding it would confirm her going totally cuckoo, she would get her dress back.
But Don is about to find himself in a rather perplexing situation all of his own. He and his sister soon realise there is a link between their respective surreal experiences, and that between them they're probably not particularly equipped to deal with what's going on. They need help - they're just not entirely sure what with. There's a mystery to be solved alright, possibly one of the longest unsolved mysteries there are.
As much as I would love to elaborate to convey the sheer depth of comic and intellectual imagination this author has put to paper, I don't want to ruin any of the reading experience for you, so I shall just say this - if you like quirky, give this a try. And are the pigs and chickens on the cover involved? Oh yes.
I'm so glad I picked this up on a whim - nameless library assistant, I salute you.
Holt has got such an original, off-kilter way of looking at things and crafts a very multi-layered, quick moving tale of what basically could be interpreted as anything from daft silliness to thundering lunacy. Yet he doesn't lose his characters for it - he is more than capable of keeping both aspects of his storytelling, his wide-ranging imagination and originality as well as his characterisation, in an enjoyable balance.
Polly is a practical, down to earth female, believable as having become the foil to her effectively useless brother's lackadaisical approach to life. Don himself does offer a lot of humour through his thought processes, whilst the other characters are believable amongst the chaos of the storyline - their reactions, told in a down-to-earth fashion as if they are either used to such goings on, or as in the case of Polly and Don, they find themselves in unthinkable situations and just have to knuckle down and get on with it. The result is a really original, extremely entertaining story which is made more believable, not less so, by the protagonists within it.
So its probably no surprise that I am giving this book the full complement of stars and I look forward to reading more work of a similar ilk from Holt, who deserves full credit for what he has created.