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After BP's latest faux pas mentioning drilling for oil and oil rigs is about as popular in America as telling die hard fans of 'The X Factor' that they are deluded. Luckily for Christopher Brookmyre his oil rig based book came out in 1999, way before the recent crisis, but not before the numerous other rigs, ships, floating platforms et al have done their damage. Oil is a nasty addiction that the world has become hooked on and for the foreseeable future little is going to change. Not only are emissions created, resources plundered, habitats destroyed, crises created, but once the rigs are finished with they become giant sea garbage. What can you do with an oil rig once it has been decommissioned? Perhaps converting one into a hotel complex miles away from any police assistance?
Gavin was never very popular at school, but neither was he unpopular. In fact, he flew so much under the radar that is ex class mates don't even know that he exists. However, Gavin has set out to change this by creating a class reunion on his soon to be opened hotel complex built on an old oil rig off the coast of Scotland. When some undesirables hear of this complex they start to wonder how easy it would be to capture the rig and force the people onboard to pay a random. Perhaps they should have chosen a more competent set of allies, or a day when rich people were around rather than the Glaswegian locals. Can the former classmates make it to their next reunion?
As an author Brookmyre has written several books that have been based around groups of people with a shared past. In this case this is the shared experience of going to the same school. In the right hands this is a great way of adding flesh to characters and making the relationships they have far deeper and more meaningful than in most books. 'One Fine Day in the Middle of the Night' does have some great character dynamics as ex lovers, former friends and personal enemies meet up again for the first time in 15 years. In the case of depressed stand up Matt Black and Gavin's put upon wife the format really works as their relationship developed before and during the book.
However, Brookmyre also has the habit of going into unnecessary detail with too many characters in his ensemble books. The likes of 'Boiling a Frog' and 'The Sacred Art of Stealing' work because they concentrate on the one main character and some amusing writing. Meanwhile, the likes of 'A Tale Etched in Blood and Hard Etched Pencil' and 'One Fine Day' lose out as there are too many people with too many pasts. In the case of 'One Fine Day' we spend so much time reading about the past that the parts of the book set in the present are constantly interrupted. I don't mind knowing great detail about one or two characters, but after six or seven you end up bogged down and not all of them actually become that important.
When the book is allowed to settle into a rhythm and the comedy crime capers occur, you are in for a treat. Brookmyre has a very dark sense of humour and it shows brilliantly in his writing. Not only are some of his intelligent one liners a joy to read, but he creates some of the best bizarre violence scenes. This won't be to everyone's taste, but they are certainly meant to be tongue in cheek. The problem is that the book does not flow well as characters keep reminiscing. In the end a series of action set pieces feels rushed and nowhere near up to the quality of some of the writing earlier in the book.
There was also a slight issue with how Brookmyre portrays his characters. He is a Scottish author who writes about mostly Scottish characters. To distinguish between different characters and their varied upbringings he likes to write accents into the dialogue. When this means writing broad Glaswegian it is at times unreadable. I would prefer to be told what a character was like and imagine their accent rather than be forced to read phonetically. If some of the less salubrious characters spoke in phonetics why where the posher characters, or those who had lived abroad, not treated the same?
'One Fine Day in the Middle of the Night' is a cracking crime comedy that is trying to get out of an overly wordy reminisceathon. It jumps back and forth between the present and the past and is only given free reign towards the end, and by this time the action feels rushed. The character development of some of the leads is exceptional and you feel for them, but others were fleshed out, but never actually used in the story. This felt a little like wasted effort for me. This is not the best book by the author, but neither the worst; it is an average slice of fiction from a good author.
Author: Christopher Brookmyre
Price: amazon uk - £5.49
play.com - £5.49
This is the first novel from Christopher Brookmyre and remains one of his best. It has one of the best opening lines of any books I have ever read. Unfortunetely I cannot write it here.
It is also the first of a series of novels with Jack Parlabayne as the main character. He is a freelance journalist who is from Glasgow and has travelled around working and as the novel progresses, indeed,as the books progress we learn more of the troubled life of Jack.
The novel follows Jack as he and a junior doctor investigate a series of seemingly unrelated and innocuous deaths to uncover a hideous unscrupulous plot of coprorate crime.
The book is fast paced from the start and is extremely whitty despite the subject matter. It also passes thro' familiar places in Edinburgh and Glasgow.
It has since been made into a drama production which did not do justice to this book.
Everybody should read it and you will laugh and cry in equal measures and I gaurentee you will read other Jack Parlabayne books.
Bestseller author Christopher Brookmyre's One Fine Day in the Middle of the Night is a lethal farce in which nothing goes quite according to plan. The mercenaries and terrorists who seize an oil rig converted into an international resort are almost too busy wanting to kill each other to get on with the job, for one thing, and, for another, the group they take hostage are a high-school reunion rather than the conference of the internationally famous they are expecting. One of the high-school year went on to be a famous gangland hardman before reforming, and another is a darkly brilliant comic whose career is on the skids--and a couple more have spent far too much time in the cinema not to know what Bruce Willis would do... This is a splendidly constructed darkly funny novel in which the oddest things prove suddenly lethal and in which the imagined geography of a closed environment is at once a trap, and a playground for heroism, double cross and the sudden discovery of true love. The running gags and knowingness about movies ought to be less amusing than they are, but Brookmyre's underlying affection for ordinary people and contempt for bullies stops them being self-indulgent.