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3.8 out of 5 stars155
3.8 out of 5 stars
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on 13 June 2011
I've been reading and liking Gary Marshall's journalism for years. And here along comes his first novel, so I've read that too. And it's good.

The world is full of books which say "I laughed till I cried" on the cover but which turn out to be utterly unfunny when you read them. This is not one of those books. It is proper funny, and actually made me laugh.

It also contains murders and plots and mystery. The characters seem real, their dialogue is natural and believable. The prose goes straight from the page to your head without your having to think about reading, the way good writing does. And the book does a nice job of taking you a little way into a plausible future: not slamming loads of over-the-top high-tech nonsense into your face every paragraph but just gently reminding you from time to time that it's not quite the here-and-now.

I loved it.
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on 8 March 2012
I love comedy and crime combined in books and films. When it works well, there can be nothing better. I don't think The Coffin Dodgers has the inventiveness of Christopher Brookmyre or Colin Bateman, nor does it have the pace and punchiness of films like Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead. But this is a decent enough novel and in the areas where Marshall seems to be lacking, he makes up for in humour.

This is the second laugh out loud novel that I have been fortunate enough to read this year (the first being Tony Royden's superb dark comedy thriller The Dealer) and for this reason alone I would be happy to recommend The Coffin Dodgers - it is an enjoyable read.
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on 31 March 2012
Light-hearted look at a view of the future gone to seed through medical advances. Marshall writes in a witty and engaging way, building his characters so well that you feel you know them.

The story is delightfully unrealistic but so fast-paced you don't stop to think. It's a cross between a crime-thriller and a comedy - think Christopher Brookmeyer but with an even zanier premise.

Here's waiting for his next one
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on 14 April 2012
I don't normally like this sort of thing, I'll say now. Mr Marshall, however, wins over doubters like me pretty quickly with some stupid japes that raise a chuckle. It's not long before the serious side of the story kicks and it goes through a Hollywood caper style plot. It was the first book I read on my kindle and I romped through it, helping me get used to the device easily.

The criticisms I'd level at it are that some of the dialogue is perhaps too cute at times and the ending could've been bigger. These are things that I'd expect from a first time novel and give me hope for sequels.

In all though it's a very enjoyable yarn and worth well more than 99p.
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on 18 June 2011
There has been a catastrophic collapse in the birth rate and an ageing population is taking it badly.

Sound familiar? If so, don't jump to conclusions. Gary Marshall's entertaining dystopian thriller is no Children of Men. His senior citizens are not just old. They're old and rich. The few children still being born are doomed to waste their youth pandering to the whims of a generation of geriatric baby boomers - not as care assistants but as barmen, croupiers and aromatherapists. Eighty is the new thirty.

This is Simon Pegg territory - Shaun of the Dead meets Hot Fuzz. The three twenty-something protagonists, Matt, Amy and Dave, work in a vast casino complex and spend their free time bitching and dreaming up juvenile practical jokes to play on their elders. A bowling green has Old Farts written across it in weed-killer; flagpoles marking the holes at a golf course are coated in anti-climb paint.

Then young people start dying is freak accidents - and always two at a time.

Marshall has chosen a difficult narrative mode for his story - first person, present tense and lots of wisecracks. With a less capable writer this would be a disaster - beginners sometimes try it because it looks accessible, but too often it exposes their lack of control over language and plot. Marshall is completely in control. The writing is neat and slick and each element of the story clicks effortlessly into place. The jokes - not laugh out loud gags, but good for a steady grin - are rooted in daily life: supermarkets, car parks, beer and the familiar hassles of singleton existence. Even the most bizarre-sounding incidents turn out to be based on reality. Dave takes a date to a restaurant where diners eat in the dark, served by blind waiters. Yes, there is one. Google "blind waiters".

The chatty tone could easily come to feel relentless, but Marshall varies the pace of the writing very effectively. There is a faint shadow of desperation behind the characters' good humour and beneath the banter the relationship between Matt and Amy is tender and sometimes moving. The grumpy policeman the trio try to enlist on their side is splendidly down-to-earth and the climax of the story is fast-paced and gripping.

He also resists the urge to over-explain. The novel is set in the near future. Most things are recognisable, but we learn in passing that newspapers are published on tablet computers - the characters tap to read the headlines. The internal combustion engine is a thing of the past, but we pick this up through casual references to batteries. This is very refreshing: Marshall trusts his readers to keep up, a tolerance too many sf writers need to learn.

An enjoyable first novel. But I hope that with the next one he will try something completely different. It's easy to get into a groove with this kind of book and it would be a shame to see that happen to such a capable writer.
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on 5 January 2014
For me this was an entertaining read - very suitable for a wet and windy Sunday. It is set in a future where there are few, if any, young people, but this is not dwelt on and did not seem to be necessary for the plot. You do not have to engage your brain too much as, unusually for me, I could see what was coming before the characters in the story did.

There was some humour but not as much as many reviewers have found - humour is of course individual so perhaps I just did not get it? Perhaps it is aimed at a younger generation - those in their mid-twenties who enjoy the comedy panel shows on TV which leave me cold I'm afraid.
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on 19 February 2013
This the first time that I've felt compelled to actually write a review but I'm genuinely annoyed that I was duped into buying it by the large number of 4 and 5 star reviews. I generally ignore reviews when I can, however I was looking for a quick and easy read for my daily commute and this seemed to fit the bill. Turns out, not so much.

First off, the blurb in the product description doesn't say exactly who has compared it to the likes of Christopher Brookmyre and Colin Bateman, however I can only assume that they have never actually read books by either author as the only similarity I could find was that it contained a lot of words. Comparing this book to anything by Chris Brookmyre is like comparing a McDonald's Value Meal to a meal in a Michelin-starred restaurant. (In retrospect, maybe that's why it was only 99p...?) Don't mean to be harsh but, seriously, this isn't in the same league and to market it as such is just plain wrong.

The basic premise is similar to that from "Children of Men" and the plot is pretty weak. The story trundles along at a barely acceptable pace, which gets frustrating after a while as it is also pretty predictable. The worst thing about this book, however, is the dialogue. The dialogue is actually the reason I abandoned it long before the end. The supposedly 'witty banter' is dire, yet the three main protagonists find themselves, and each other, constantly hilarious and you soon get fed up reading about them grinning (seriously, I've never known anyone to grin as much as these idiots) and rolling around in fits of laughter. Don't get me wrong, I love laughing. I laugh a lot. However, this book mainly just made me want to smash my Kindle with a large hammer and then throw it into the sea.

This book isn't necessarily terrible; it's the sort of novel I would have loved when I was 14 years-old. In that respect I think it would have been better tucked away in the 'Teen Fiction' section, rather than marketed as Brookmyre/Bateman-style novel. The lack of profanity means it would probably fit in quite nicely too. Just a thought, Amazon, just a thought.
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on 20 March 2013
I really enjoyed this book. The premise was good, and the characters were believable and well written. It hits some hilarious heights and is written with a nod to Colin Bateman, Christopher Brookmeyre and earlier Iain Banks. Well written, with a good idea, characters you can relate to, some great gags, it's well worth a read. If I was in a mean mood I'd say that there were one or two small holes in the plot and give it four and a half stars, but no, I think it's worth five. If you're humming and hawing over whether to buy it or not, don't - just go ahead and get it, you'll enjoy it.
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on 11 September 2012
Product description includes comparison with Christopher Brookmyre, Colin Bateman and others. I've read their books and I've read this and there is no comparison.
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on 30 May 2013
I got this book as a Kindle freebie. One of the reasons I downloaded it was that of 100 or so reviews it averaged 4 stars, but after reading the first 4 chapters I found it hadn't caught my imagination and it seemed to be going nowhere fast. Having put the book down and intending to come back to it later, I began wondering if I should give up on it as I felt I wouldn't enjoy it, although I don't like giving up on a book. I decided to read some of the reviews to see if it might improve. Reading the lower star reviews rang some bells, e.g. predictable jokes that weren't actually funny and simplistic dialogue. It seemed the book would continue in the same way for the remaining 80% I had yet to read so was unlikely to be my cup of tea. Fair play to those who enjoyed it and gave it 4 or 5 stars, different people find different things appealing; however, there are so many books to read I didn't want to risk wasting my time reading one I probably wouldn't enjoy when the same time could be spent reading one I would for one of the other 185 books that await me on my Kindle...
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