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4.7 out of 5 stars
Riotous Assembly
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 26 February 2000
You'll come across some hilariously funny characters, Kommandent Van Heerden a racist South African policemen who will stop at nothing but to maintain the white supremacy of the South African nation, Miss Hazelstone, eccentric and English, the Bishop victim of an arbitrary police campaign to convict him for the murder of a black cook and last but no least Konstable Els raving loony mad man.
All in all it's a comedy not for the light hearted, it starts of with the shooting of a black cook by the good natured nymphomaniac Miss Hazelstone, a shiny example of all that is English. However when the police come to find out that this cook happens to have been Miss Hazelstone's lover, engrossing in acts of bondage, rubber, viagra; does a campaign start to cover up or to face a crisis of the very worst kind of White domination in South Africa. Hilariously funny taking you into a fast paced drama of shooting, hanging, sex, sex and more sex. A must be for all.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 29 August 2004
Riotous Assembly is a hysterically funny satire, set in the mid 20th Century South Africa.
Sharpe has taken aspects of the South African police force, which would otherwise be of serious matter and turned it into a witty and enjoyable insight into the apartheid era.
Unique and quirky characters contribute to a twisting and intriguing plot, which will make your head spin.
Even if the subject matter does not appeal to all, Sharpe's savagely hillarious approach will make you laugh out loud.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 7 November 2003
This book should carry a health warning! There were times during the reading of this book that I laughed so much I could hardly breathe. It is Tom Sharpe at his best and the book is laced with his well known brand of humour and ridiculous though somehow believable plots! The setting has since been superceeded but I don't think it detracts from the book in anyway. Not for the faint hearted or easily offended!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
When I first read this, as a young teenager, I was absolutely creased with laughter, and thought it was the funniest thing I had ever read. More than 20 years later and it still has me in stitches whenever I return to it, and I the only comedies I have ever found that even come close to surpassing it are Tom Sharpe's other books.

This is a satire on one of the most shameful episodes in human history, the South African Apartheid. Tom Sharpe live in South Africa for many years, and as such has a thorough feel for the people and environs of the country, which really helps fill the book with atmosphere.

It tells the story of a South African policeman, Kommandant Van Heerden, a Boer who wishes more than anything to become an Englishman. When a white Lady gruesomely kills her black cook he revels in the chance to mix with the highest echelons of white society. However, things soon turn ugly on him as it becomes clear that the people he has always looked up to are just as depraved as he imagines the black populace to be.

In what would become Sharpe's trademark, a seemingly simple and everyday situation subtly changes and evolves into a wild rampage of fantastical proportions. The outcome seems ridiculous, but every step taken to get there is perfectly logical and reasonable. And when the dam bursts there is a riot, quite literally, as war breaks out in the sleepy suburbs.

As well as being laugh out loud funny, this is a serious satire on the morals and attitudes of the people involved in apartheid. When I first read it I thought the descriptions of attitudes toward and treatment of the black population was a wild exaggeration, now I realise that it really was like that. It really works at all levels to give an entertaining and thought provoking read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 17 February 2010
I first read this book over 20 years ago. Since then I have had trouble finishing it a second time. Reason? There are bits in the book that are so hysterically funny that I keep going back to them, which makes it really hard to progress. One of the most memorable is when the police are convinced that a bush is firing at them. Another is the doomed struggle between Els and the dog. The dog had no chance. This audio version is really well done by Simon Callow. His rendition of the accents and character of the protagonists in the book conjures up all the old magic of my first outing with this book. Before I listened I had a slight worry that, because its an audiobook the language would have been sanitised. Glad to report that it hasn't been. Sanitising the language would have damaged the portrayal of the characters. One thing I do wonder though. Just how could Simon Callow read this without laughing out loud? There must be some really funny outtakes on someone's cutting room floor somewhere. My first listen on my now pensionable personal stereo cassette player has determined that this is definitely not one to listen to while driving.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 30 December 2010
A hilarious satire on the South African Police. What I find most impressive is that even though it is set against such a dark and realistic context, Sharpe still manages to create side splitting humour. It is characterized effectively, written clearly, and is genuinely easy to read, not to mention it is concise and keeps you interested from start to finish. Ideal for a day off!

The story-line is pretty bizarre, but that is what makes it so entertaining. This is the kind of book where you will laugh aloud many times within the space of a page and a half. If you're in the mood for a laugh, this is the book to read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 20 October 2011
To call Sharpe's humour black is certainly an understatement. Hardly have I found bitter political satire embedded in such a wildly funny, farcical plot. Some jokes and puns might be considered politically incorrect in more ethnically sensitive eras such as the 21st century. But seeing as mainly the then - and still - most ignorant ethnic group is at the centre of the most absurd turns of plot I can't find fault with that. If the book is a revenge of what Mr Sharpe went through in his South African time it is the most poignant, yet subtle one I've ever seen - in spite of its sometimes offensive language and political incorrectness. A brilliant book that gave me many a good and hearty burst of laughter.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 9 July 2009
I first picked this book up at the age of 15 and proceeded to wet myself laughing for the next 2 days. The characters are outrageous. My clear favourite is Miss Hazlestone. She is an ageing spinster who is into rubber and high-powered firearms. She also writes articles on refined living for a local magazine. This book pokes fun at appartheid and the enforcers of South African law and order in a graphic and frivolous manner. It makes the reader wonder how much of the material in this book is based on true stories...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 9 July 2009
I usually read in bed..reading this book I almost died in bed! I laughed so much the tears wet my pillowcase. Either I would have an heart attack or my wife, asleep beside me, would do the job for me if I woke her; neither happened thank goodness. My wife says that I have a sick sense of humour after I tell her about the pages I have read. She might be right, however it doesn't change anything, this is one of the most enjoyable, hilarious books I have ever read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 21 March 2013
Classic Tom Sharpe. Side splittingly funny, outrageous, irreverent and at most times certainly not PC! Brilliant...
Read this one first and then Indecent Exposure and you'll probably be hooked on this author :-)
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