I read this recently after a friend had recommended it sometime ago. I can only say I wish I'd read it sooner. This is a great first book, with all the fresh, dynamic offerings of great first novels such as Last Exit To Brooklyn (Selby), The Wasp Factory (Banks), and Less Than Zero (Ellis).
The basic plot is about the truly horrendous murder of a doctor in Edinburgh, the unwitting involvement of an investigative journalist, and the revelation of a somewhat blood-curdling business scam at a local hospital. The humour is thick and fast, the violence is thick and fast, and the main characters are so well shaped you could make an omlette with them. The first ten pages of this book are uncomfortable reading as the police investigate a murder scene brimming with blood, vomit (both from the scene and added to by certain police officers), and human poo. And it doesn't let up from here. However, the humour does salvage the discomfort caused by the murder because the jokes are aplenty and the writing is quality. But I wouldn't recommend this to fans of Inspector Morse or Bergerac.
The only problem I'd have with this book is the simplistic, almost childish attitude towatd 1980s Tory Britan. Don't get me wrong - I don't mind anyone that likes a good Thatcher-bashing - but the air to this is less one of political astuteness and more of basic aggression, good versus evil. As a result, the only politically motivated character in the book, the Tory-loving Stephen Lime, seems to be a thinly veiled charicature of Tory greed rather than a solid, imposing figure. None of the other characters are especially driven by politics, so it makes him stand out a bit too much as more of a political 'Anorak' rather than someone with ministerial prowess. But that's just niggling really. It's still a great book.