ESCAPING REALITY - GEOFF NELDER
If you like your prison escape stories written with ironic humour, your international jewel theft books full of quirky musicians and your librarians sexy, this is the book for you. If you're never considered any of these apparently jarring concepts, now's your chance. Ostensibly a straightforward "I've been framed and I'll prove it" novel, Escaping Reality itself escapes reality and turns into a tour-de-force of plot-twisting, fell-walking, identity-hiding computer-hacking riotous turmoil. As a stiff-necked literary critic might say, it also underlines the existential meretriciousness of solipcism. The rest of us might just say that it reaffirms the fact that we are all, ultimately, on our own. But don't let that get you down - the protagonist (he's no hero!) triumphs, gets his own back to some extent and even manages to have a surprising amount of naughty stuff on the way.
The book reads as if it has two parts - the opening mystery/who-dun-it set-up during which you think "That's couldn't have happened" and "That's just unlikely" and the second half - more of a thriller - in which you see that "Ah! THAT'S how it happened" and "Of course, that makes sense", all laced with quips, humour and an acceptance that bicycles sometimes have minds of their own. The action takes in prison life, what it's like to be a jobbing musician, good cops, bad cops and atmospheric, detail-drenched settings in Cumbria and non-tourist Amsterdam. Any more would give it away, and the plot deserves to be discovered as you read (and re-read, because you just won't get all the darker and complex undertones first time around).
Comparisons are invidious - and there's no other book to compare it to, anyway - but imagine an Alistair Maclean novel written by Robert Rankin after looking at too many Salvador Dali paintings on a rollercoaster. Or something like that. Better still, buy it and read it - you won't be disappointed.
But you might wish all librarians were a bit more like Wendy.