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All Fun and Games Until Somebody Loses an Eye

Christopher Brookmyre

Average Review Rating Average Rating 8/10 (1 Review)
Book Details

Publisher : Little, Brown

Published : 2005

Copyright : Christopher Brookmyre 2005

ISBN-10 : HB 0-316-72523-4
ISBN-13 : HB 978-0-316-72523-1

Publisher's Write-Up

As a teenager Jane Bell had dreamt of playing in the casinos of Monte Carlo in the company of James Bond, but in her punk phase she'd got herself pregnant and by the time she reaches forty-six she's a grandmother, her dreams as dry as the dust her Dyson sucks up from her hall carpet every day. Then her son Ross, a researcher working for an arms manufacturer in Switzerland, is forced to disappear before some characters cut from the same cloth as Blofeld persuade him to part with the secrets of his research. But they are not the only ones desperate to locate him. A team of security experts is hired by Ross's firm: headed by the enigmatic Bett, his staff have little in common apart from total professionalism and a thorough disregard for the law. Bett believes the key to Ross's whereabouts is his mother, and in one respect he is right, but even he is taken aback by the verve underlying her determination to secure her son's safety as she learns the black arts of quiet subterfuge and violent attack. The teenage dreams of fast cars, high-tech firepower and extreme action had always promised to be fun and games, but in real life it's likely someone is going to lose an eye...

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Reader Reviews

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Review by Chrissi (181009) Rating (8/10)

Review by Chrissi
Rating 8/10
This is a bit of a departure for Mr B, as he must have been kind of mellow - his trademark rants and sly humour are mostly missing, but that does not mean that this is any less well observed than his previous books. Here, we meet Jane, a housewife and grandmother whose day to day routine involves the maintenance of her carpets and looking after her grandchildren. She knows that something is missing from her life - it really wasn't what she had planned when she was a teenage punk with blue hair, but she is at a loss to know how to change her present situation.

Her children have left home and her husband is likened to part of the furniture. She has tried to vary her routine but has never stuck with it; higher education was put on hold to be available to look after the grandchildren, and her taxi driving job was taken from her when the local taxi companies were taken over in a turf war. Jane goes to the gym and utilises her physical fitness to be able to pull herself across the kitchen counter without putting her feet on the newly washed floor. The initial description of Jane's life will surprise people familiar with Mr B's more contentious opening salvoes, but it is intriguing, you cannot help but wonder where he is going with it, and get going it certainly does.

You know those stories in the news where a little person lifts a car to rescue a child, performing a feat that under normal circumstances would be impossible? Jane sees her granddaughter being abducted and goes after the man, placing herself in harms way to save the little girl. Afterwards, she receives a telephone call on a mobile she finds in her handbag (which she does not own) telling her that she has to get to a certain place in France in order to prevent any more danger befalling her family. So she goes, just leaves, never mind that the police are waiting to speak to her about the abduction attempt, never mind that she has no passport, tickets or anything, she is single minded in her quest and from then on, it is rather more buckle-up than blue-rinse.

I can see why some people might not enjoy this book as much as some of his other work, as it is a departure, more of a wish-fulfilment exercise. Jane will be familiar to many people, either in your own mirror or someone close to you, the reflection bits are poignant, describing as they do, the difference between how she feels and the external shell. I was quite struck by the deft handling of the description of the reflection, as Jane gets used to seeing a person in the mirror, one day she is gone, replaced by an older person, and just as she had gotten used to that one… you know what I mean. To see her learning and growing as a person (advanced weaponry notwithstanding) keeps you rooting for her.

I am unsure, though, whether she is a valid character to revisit; her tale is action packed, and you will be rooting for Jane all the way, however, this story is nicely rounded and finished off well. Jane's future is a happy one with the possibilities ahead and it would be a shame to force the poor girl out of retirement – she is a granny after all.
Chrissi (18th October 2009)

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