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Armadillo [Paperback]

William Boyd
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)

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Book Description

25 Feb 1999
One winter morning Lorimer Black goes to keep a business appointment and finds a hanged man. This is just the start of what turns out to be a horrendous period for Lorimer as he realizes that he's being set up at work and cast adrift outside the office. This is a very funny novel with its dark side that shows a good man being boxed in and unable to see how to help himself.

Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; New Ed edition (25 Feb 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014027944X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140279443
  • Product Dimensions: 18.4 x 11 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 739,598 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

William Boyd is the author of ten novels, including A Good Man in Africa, winner of the Whitbread Award and the Somerset Maugham Award; An Ice-Cream War, winner of the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and shortlisted for the Booker Prize; Brazzaville Beach, winner of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize; Any Human Heart, winner of the Prix Jean Monnet; Restless, winner of the Costa Novel of the Year, the Yorkshire Post Novel of the Year and a Richard & Judy selection, and most recently, the bestselling Ordinary Thunderstorms.

(Photo credit: Eamonn McCabe)

Product Description

Amazon Review

Lorimer Black may suffer from a serious sleep disorder and an obsession with the labyrinths of the British class system, but Armadillo's peculiar protagonist is the star insurance adjuster of London's Fortress Sure PLC, unkindly known as the Fort. At the very start of William Boyd's noir-ish seventh novel, however, things take a decided swerve for the worse. On a bleak January morning one of his cases has apparently chosen to kill himself rather than talk: "Mr. Dupree was simultaneously the first dead person he had encountered in his life, his first suicide and his first hanged man and Lorimer found this congruence of firsts deceptively troubling."

Soon our hero, who himself has a lot to hide, finds himself threatened by a dodgy type whose loss he has adjusted way down and embroiled with the beautiful married actress Flavia Malinverno. "People who've lost something, they call on you to adjust it, make the loss less hard to bear? As if their lives are broken in some way and they call on you to fix it," Flavia dippily wonders. Lorimer also has his car torched and instantly goes from an object of affection to one of deep suspicion at the Fort. Then there is another case, the small matter of the rock star who may or may not be faking the Devil he claims is sitting on his left shoulder.

Needless to say, Lorimer is "becoming fed up with this role of fall guy for other people's woes." Boyd adds a deep layer of psychological heft and a lighter level of humour to this thinking-person's thriller by exploring Lorimer's manifold personal and social fears. This is a man who desperately collects ancient helmets even though he knows they offer only "the illusion of protection."

Another of Armadillo's many pleasures: its dose of delicious argot. Should Lorimer "oil" the apparent perpetrator of the Fedora Palace arson before he's oiled himself? Or perhaps he just needs to "put the frighteners" on him. Boyd definitely puts the frighteners on his readers more than once in this cinematically seedy and dazzling literary display. --Kerry Fried,


A novel that is truly comic, and, like all true comedy, also disturbing (Scotsman)

Marvellously paced and ingeniously plotted. A real page-turner (Observer)

Armadillo doesn't miss a trick. It has depth and resonance which will make you want to read it again . . . zinging readability (Mail on Sunday)

A joy to read: east to get into, addictively plotted and beautifully written (Daily Mail)

As entertaining and as thought-provoking as anything Boyd has ever written (Daily Telegraph) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
In these times of ours - and we don't need to be precise about the exact date - but, anyway, very early in the year, a young man not much over thirty, tall - six feet plus an inch or two - with ink-dark hair and a serious-looking, fine-featured but pallid face, went to keep a business appointment and discovered a hanged man. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
This is unlike any of William Boyd's other novels, or indeed any other novels that I have read. Almost the opposite of The New Confessions, it describes only a few weeks. It presents a man, with very little reference to his past, that you must learn about from his interaction with others and his, sometimes absurd, actions. I feel like I've met Lorimer Black and I really fancy Flavia. You become submersed in his world until you're unsure of you're own identity. Less of a thriller or a comedy than an intimate, naked portrayal of a small portion of a man's life.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A dark comedy of the metropolis 3 Oct 2009
By Eileen Shaw TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Armadillo is a shining achievement - one of Boyd's best books. It concerns Milomre Blocj (who has renamed himself Lorimer Black), of Eastern European gypsy extraction. The youngest son of a large family, he was born and works in London as an insurance loss adjuster. This is a dark comedy of the metropolis and the golden mile - dark deeds, business disasters, murky violence and threats around every corner.

Boyd's fluid style and sharp perceptions are at their best in this brilliantly constructed, acutely funny, yet melancholy book. Several themes run through this book - flowers, antique helmets, routes around and across London, trashed cars, and insomnia. The character of Lorimer is brilliantly drawn - impressionable, intelligent, clever yet also periodically nave - he is a very likeable protagonist. His boss Hogg is a classic tough man; his amour Flavia is a mercurial, maddening beauty; his friends and family are deftly created and sustained. I've read this book twice now, a thing I rarely do with any book, and I enjoyed it even more the second time.
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32 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The master writes his millenial novel. 10 Aug 2001
By A Customer
Armadillo by William Boyd
a pastiche of the mystery/thriller/crime works of confection we are bombarded with on the shelves of every bookstore. It seems at first that we will be treated to a slow and conventional unravelling of a suicide, an insurance fraud, and other gritty episodes, and that these mundane layers will peel back to suck our hero unwittingly into a seedy underworld of crime that thrives alongside our respectable city professions (surely not!). But actually this teasingly never transpires. This is a good old-fashioned character study and all the better for it. Although these plot episodes serve a purpose - to bring our hero, down on his luck, to his knees, in order that he may change and rise from the ashes (yes, he has to be himself; a hundred thousand therapists applaud) - Boyd must surely be making a point about the fiction industry: here is a book that will sell because of inconsequential devices which, had they been absent, would not have dented the book's literary worth, but sure as hell would've dented its gross product.
And its message is a wonderful message. Think for yourself, and trust your conclusions; and sod society. Milo, of Eastern European extraction, has always strived to fit in. This information is not imparted clumsily - Milo is a confident and successful businessman; the very epitome, in fact, of what success is considered to be in our society. In this role, though, he finds himself colluding, merely by his presence, in all sorts of ubiquitous undesirable elements - sexism, nepotism, classism, etc. He narrates all the way through, and, until the end, almost never passes judgement, yet we, the reader, gain a sense of his disgust at these things despite his passivity and impassivity. This is indeed skilled writing...
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fine book - but a disgrace to Kindle 17 Feb 2011
By Nicky
I make no comment about the book per se beyond the first two words of the title of this review: anyone reading it will infer correctly that I enjoyed this book greatly. I write here only to warn prospective buyers that the Kindle version is a monument to illiteracy, lack of proof reading and indifference to the basics of written English. In short, an insult to its author. There is hardly a page without some omission of punctuation - the concept of direct speech ending with a full stop as well as an inverted apostrophe seems utterly beyond the ken of its Kindle originator - discrete words are run one into another, and egregious misspellings such as TOUR for YOUR abound. This edition is a disgrace and whoever is responsible for it should hang his or her head in shame; he or she is the sort of person who gets one thinking whistfully of anthills, oodles of sticky honey and taut guy ropes under a lingering African sun...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Strange book, glad I persevered 24 May 2013
I have a bit of a thing about insurance so it was fun to read a novel about loss adjusting. The larger-than-life, mostly vile characters are entertaining and there are some great set pieces - making it possible the novel was written with a screenplay in mind.

On the downside, simply too much going on - Greek helmets, sleep experiments, Transnistrian gypsies, philosophical diaries. But I love all the careering around London, the smoking - very nostalgic now - the dialogue and the punch ups.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed 4 Feb 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I normally love William Boyd as a writer but was very disappointed with this. Well written it surely is but I actually abandoned it about half way through. I found the characters confusing and I couldn't warm o any of them and got to he stage of not caring at all what happened to any of them . The situations they found themselves in was equally in interesting to me. I suppose there was humour in the book but again didn't really increase the appeal. Sorry but for me this is a William Boyd novel that didn't excite.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars not his best
the story is only OK, but it's well written
Published 2 days ago by nykwylk
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant.
The author must surely be one of the very best writers in Britain today. His books, whether fiction or non-fiction, are always worth reading.
Published 2 months ago by Ure Ther
4.0 out of 5 stars GOOD READ
A surprising book....excellently written, as always, by William Boyd. Found myself roaring my head off more than once with some of the situations the hero finds himself in, a sort... Read more
Published 7 months ago by RODNEY LOVE
3.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book but.........
The quality of the Kindle edition is really bad. I have lost count of the errors in 'typing' - words split in two, first letters of many words wrong so difficult to make sense and... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Allan
2.0 out of 5 stars Hmm .. I Don't Know ...
I am a William Boyd enthusiast.
I found his 'Restless' one of the most un-put-downable books I have read in a long time.
But Armadillo!!
As I said I don't know. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Francesca
5.0 out of 5 stars Living in a parallel universe
I chose to read this novel because I have been very impressed with other works by this author. His fluency in the manipulation of language is superb, and his ability to create... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Thoughtful reader
1.0 out of 5 stars Not again ....!
William Boyd has already written two extremely tedious cradle-to-grave "autobiographies" of very boring fictitious characters (why oh why? Read more
Published 13 months ago by S. Evans
1.0 out of 5 stars A waste of time
If you are a novelist you cannot afford to publish a bad book as anyone who reads it as their first acquaintance with your work will not read another. Read more
Published 16 months ago by A. BUTTERWORTH
3.0 out of 5 stars Good stuff
It's a pleasurable read and I absolutely wanted to turn the pages, and I loved the conclusion on which I will say nothing. Read more
Published 18 months ago by William Roberts
4.0 out of 5 stars Great story, terrible typos
Others will no doubt be able to give this novel a more detailed and considerate review. In short, the story is fast paced, gripping, compulsive. Read more
Published 18 months ago by A Gissdal
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