Buy this book at
To Past Reviews Index
Back to Last Page

Quite Ugly One Morning

Christopher Brookmyre

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

Publisher : Abacus

Published : 1996

Copyright : Christopher Brookmyre 1996

ISBN-10 : PB 0-349-10885-4
ISBN-13 : PB 978-0-349-10885-8

Publisher's Write-Up

Yeah, yeah, the usual. A crime. A corpse. A killer. Heard it. Except this stiff happens to be a Ponsonby, scion of a venerable Edinburgh medical clan, and the manner of his death speaks of unspeakable things. Why is the body displayed like a slice of beef? How come his hands are digitally challenged? And if it's not the corpse, what is that awful smell?

A post-Thatcherite nightmare of frightening plausibility, quite ugly one morning is a wickedly entertaining and vivacious thriller, full of acerbic wit, cracking dialogue and villains both reputed and shell-suited.

'The dialogue is a joy throughout and the plot crackles along with confident gusto and intelligence assured debut by a talented writer.'

The Times

'Very violent, very funny. A comedy with political edge, which you take gleefully in one gulp.'

Literary Review

'A wicked satire ...excellent plotting and a goodly amount of acidic one-liners.'

The Scotsman

'A sharp, funny novel, with strong characters and some smart dialogue.'


Winner of the 1996 Cntics' First Blood Award.

Column Ends


Reader Reviews

Why not Submit a Review your own Review for this book?

Review by Chrissi (280403) Rating (8/10)

Review by Chrissi
Rating 8/10
This was Christopher Brookmyre’s first novel and came out in 1996, so I should probably have read this before now, well, it has been sitting on a shelf until I picked it up yesterday morning to take to college with me. Two bus journeys, lunch in the alley café and an hour at home and it is finished – and do you know what? I really enjoyed it.

It is the first time that we meet journalist Jack Parlabane, and Dr. Sarah Slaughter, and strangely enough, it is the first time that they meet each other as well. The book opens with a crime scene, over which the poor postman has stumbled (and vomited and wet himself), so there is an indication of the gruesomeness that sets the tone for the rest of the story. I started to read this while eating my breakfast and I am so glad that it was cereal and not a sausage fry up, otherwise the fingers could have really put me off.

Jack at this point has a stinking hangover and an aversion to the police, but as a nosy journalist he cannot resist a quick look over the stairs and lo! The door slams shut behind him. The obvious solution? Ask a policeman? Or nip into the flat below and climb back up to his window. Yep, the latter. Except that (turn away now if you are easily grossed out…) he paddles through the mess left by the postman and looks at the crime scene (you can almost imagine the sensations squelching through his toes…urghh…), seeing his neighbour dead he takes in the salient points before heading for the window, whereupon he is stopped by a policewoman.

Having been taken to the police station he finds out the name of the murdered man, Dr Jeremy Ponsonby, and discovers that he worked for one of the Edinburgh Hospitals Trusts. Well, Parlabane’s nose for a story is twitching and he decides to investigate with the help of Ponsonby’s ex-wife. What he discovers is corruption in the chief executive’s office, with a mass murderer and a villain in a shell suit who opens with a missing finger and eventually loses a whole hand (gross again…)

Now, you probably know that I work in the NHS and that was probably what attracted me to this book, after all, the description of the admin offices being nice places with airy rooms and pot plants, while the wards are short staffed and manky, with horrible smells and unreliable computers is pretty true to life. I have never, though, come across such an underhanded chief exec as Stephen Lime, and I hope that I never do.

One thing about this book, I was reading it in the college canteen with a cup of tea and a group of young men went by, back to wherever they lurk in the college, and one of them (non too subtly) stage whispered to his mate, ‘did you see that book!’ and he laughed, so, reader beware, the cover (of my copy) is black with multicoloured lettering, rather eye-catching if I may say so.

So if you are likely to be embarrassed by being seen reading such a title, I would suggest that it might be hidden, but do not let the title put you off, because it is really good. I laughed and squirmed in equal measure, and fully intend to read more of these over the next few months.
Chrissi (28th April 2003)

Back to Top of Page
Column Ends