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Rain Dogs and Love Cats
I first came across Andrew Holmes whilst browsing through ex-loan books on sale in my local library. The book 'Sleb' caught my eye and I parted with my 20p. Having thoroughly enjoyed it (20p wisely invested), I purchased his second book "All Fur Coat" at full price which was again an excellent read. Holmes' other two books have been sitting on my Amazon wishlist since publication. So, when I joined 'BookMooch' earlier this month (following a review I read on Ciao), this was the first book I mooched. Two days later my hardback copy (barely touched) arrived, and essentially it had cost me nothing (as I hadn't at that stage sent out any of my books).
More about Andrew Holmes and his books can be found at this website - http://www.64clarke.co.uk/ (named after his third book, which I have read since this book, and will review in due course) - you can also read sample chapters (an excellent way to get an idea whether you like his style before you part with any money). The website's well worth checking out, as it also tells you about his inspiration for this book which is entertaining and enjoyable to read. It also means that I don't need to waffle unnecessarily!
So, moving on to "Rain Cats and Love Dogs"...
The story begins in 1973. A young mum is in the garden on a hot summer's day and her baby is in the paddling pool. She drifts off for a minute, but tragically when she awakes her baby is lying face down in the pool, dead.
We fast forward to the present day where a young couple have recently moved from the city centre to the outskirts of London to bring up their baby daughter in a 'nicer' environment. Charlie works in the music industry, DJ-ing at weddings and parties, and buying and selling music memorabilia on the Internet. When he receives the news of his brother Leo's sudden death, Charlie's life is thrown into turmoil. There are things which just don't add up - why are the police interested in what Leo was doing? Why was Leo investigating the disappearance of a dog? What was Leo about to tell Charlie before he died? What is the significance of the events in 1973? And, is Charlie going to wreck his marriage searching for the answers?
Various themes run through the book - the British youth, the difficulties of having a newborn baby, family relationships, and the deaths of loved ones. However, it is a comedy - a very dark, very British comedy. The book had me laughing out loud (on the train to work!) and it had me guessing until the end. The book is essentially a detective story, although that makes it sound (to me anyway) a bit boring - it is anything but boring! To be honest I'm not sure I'm making the book sound as good as it actually is.
This was a very enjoyable read, and one I read within a couple of days. I'm not sure it would appeal as much to a non-British audience, due to the humour, and also the references to contemporary British culture, but I could be wrong. I share an excerpt with you:
"As darkness began to make its presence felt, the boys slapped their football shirts over their skinny white shoulders and the group went across the wooden footbridge, with Selina doing 'Saved-ya!' to Lauren ('Fuck off, Slinah') and Nathan doing 'Saved-ya!' to Carly ('Nathe, fuck off!') all the way across. " (p.61)
Andrew Holmes is an excellent writer. I would be surprised if any fans of Ben Elton, Stephen Fry and Geoff Nicholson's (my favourite, and sadly not very well-known author - I must review some of his books) novels don't enjoy Andrew Holmes'. I would certainly recommend him. However, I understand that this sort of humour does not appeal to everyone - it is possibly not a book for those who are easily offended.
The book is only available in hardback at the moment (it was released in July 2007 and is published by Sceptre), and retails at £12.99, although is available on Amazon for £11.20. It is 416 pages long, and is suitable for men and women, from their 20s onwards. Described by the Independent on Sunday as "Witty, exciting and frequently brutal" which I think sums it up well. As a BookMooch I think I did very well there!
Just a note to Andrew Holmes if you happen to be reading (which I very much doubt) - keep those books coming!
Also on Ciao.
Somehow, Charlie's found himself back in the suburb he grew up desperate to leave, playing the same old records to groups of pissed-up punters at weddings and 40th birthday parties. He loves his wife and their new baby, but it wasn't meant to be like this. Early one morning he learns that his brother has been involved in a fatal accident. It seems that Leo, a seasoned Tom Waits impersonator, has been running a dodgy detective agency on the side. His last case involved a missing dog. As Charlie picks up the investigation he discovers a trail which leads uncomfortably close to home...With his trademark ability to skewer people, with all their vanities and weaknesses, to the page, Andrew Holmes delivers a darkly funny and compelling detective story that shows just how hard it is to escape the past.