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4.3 out of 5 stars125
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 22 January 2003
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.
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on 6 April 2009
Loved this audiobook. I purchased it because of the reader (David Tennant) and wasn't disappointed. It was a performance, not a read. First, you get all the accents. After all, the accents help distinguish one character from another in a way that isn't necessary when you are reading the book. DT uses a wide range of voices, from high in the register (women) to very low for the men (some grumbling in the cellar). I can't judge on UK regional accents but these were distinct enough that I could tell pseudo home counties (?) English to the tough inner cities accent of the thugs.
Best part of it was the profanity - lots of it, and no punches pulled. I would have glossed over it if I were reading it in a book (OK, character is mad... skip forward) but you couldn't ignore it here.
I haven't read the book so I can't judge on the abridgement, but as a bit of theater it's great - just like a radio play. A lot of fun to listen to on my long commute.
If you are a DT fan, this is a must-buy.
It was unexpectedly funny, so now I have to look for more (print) books by this author.
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on 2 May 2003
I've just finished re-reading this book again and it's as funny now as it was five years ago. While I know it must appeal to just about anyone who as a sense of humour and enjoys a whodunnit, if you are live in Central Scotland, you cannot help but identify with the things this guy says. I've recommended Brookmyre to everyone I know and no-one has done anything other than praise him and then went out and bought all his novels. Read this book and you will know what I mean.
PS The best opening line in a book I've ever come across!
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on 10 December 2012
This is a review specifically for the audio version of this book. I enjoyed the story itself, but when coupled with the terrific talent of David Tennant as the narrator, the great story becomes spectacular on audio! David is an extraordinarily talented audio book reader who effortlessly creates distinct voices for each character in the story. His accents are wonderful, his delivery and timing are spot-on, and he leaves you wishing that there were twice as many CD's in the package!
As for the story, it's a wonderful murder mystery with a gritty feel to it. It does get a bit graphic in some parts, so if you're squeamish, that's something to note. Otherwise, it's a really intense, gripping journey through the world of police investigation and the National Health system.
I highly recommend this audio book. I've listened to it several times now, and I love it all over again each time. I hope you enjoy it, too!
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on 19 July 2001
Chrisopher Brookmyre is an exceptional author who brings to life a great character in the form of Jack Parlabane. If you enjoy your crime gritty and your humour black then there is no-one who can touch Brookmyre. He superbly captures the east-meets-west of Scotland rivalry. Further to this the book rips along at a cracking pace to the point that you cannot put the book down. A word of warning though, the language in the book reflects the gritty style. Strong language abounds, though for some who do not have a grasp of Scottish slang there may be some problems undestanding words such as 'keech' and 'jobby'. You can guess as to their meaning via the context of their use which should prove to be more than educational. A must read for all fans of crime and black humour novels.
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on 27 February 1999
Having just finally put this book down, and allowing the blood to flow back into my fingers from what was most possibly the best read ever, I feel compelled to share my thoughts about this book with the rest of you ...
Parlabane, the book's main character was injected with an incredible amount of realism ... you feel by the end of this novel that you have just 'became friends' and find yourself clammering for more pages ... but there's none to find .... The relationships set up within this book are also damn fine, although Parlabane and Sarah's eventual getting together were a little too obvious within reading a couple of sentences.
Plotwise, it will keep you anxious to keep turning those pages, waiting to find out what happens next ...from the utterly grotesque murder at the start of the book to the nailbiting climax with guns at heads ...! With the exception of a couple of amusing flashbacks into Parlabane's past, the book manages to keep itself to the point ... never straying too far away from the main plot to get confused, mixed up and altogether boring ... this book is by no means a classic - but - a thoroughly enjoyable romp nevertheless.
If you are going to buy a book today, I would whole heartedly recommend this one ... a throurougly outstanding first novel for Christopher Brookmyre ... that I now feel compelled to read more of his work.
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on 24 January 2010
Jack Parlabane is something of a para-journalist... whose skills seem more akin to a burglar or spy, and who does very little journalism throughout. When his new neighbour's corpse is found in rather unusual circumstances he teams up with the ex-wife of the deceased and a local police officer to investigate.

The story is fast moving, with new discoveries coming thick and fast, and unlike the majority of detective novels the reader is let in on who the baddies are and some of their plans fairly early on - and although in other books this has been a quite torturous approach as the investigation stumbles around, here it works. The scenes jump from character to character very quickly in a style very different from what I am used to reading, which causes a little confusion as you get re-oriented at the beginning of each chapter. Indeed, it was some time before I fell in to who was going to be the main character.

The book is a little crude. Okay, very crude. Not in terms of the writing but in terms of the amount of blood, excrement and otherwise detailed descriptions of comedy gore. It's certainly not horror, but black humour might be a better choice of label. It's generally not laugh out loud funny, but it's certainly not subtle - it is his first novel that I have read though, so it will be interesting to see how it develops.

It was in all an enjoyable quick read, though the characters are not incredibly deep and the whole romp is slightly less than believable - particularly some of the misfortune that befalls the bad guys. I'll stick with Brookmyre for book two.
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on 30 August 2002
Another book bought on the recommendation of Amazon. The book got off to a superb start with a gruesome murder, but a lot of great humour from the investigating police. I also enjoyed the fact that I recognised all the places mentioned in the book even though they had ficticious names. This helped greatly in picturing the various scenes throughout the book. Throughout the book there was some superb humour that had me laughing out loud. Indeed, there were times that I couldn't put the book down as the pace picked up in the storyline. Unfortunately, (now the bad points!), the story seemed to splutter and stutter along and became very slow and tiresome at some points. The storyline had more than it's fair shair of cliches and one thing that really started to irritate me was the main character - a journalist - being called names like "hack" and "scoop". Who outwith journalistic and American pulp fiction books actually uses words like that??
On a plus though, it has some tremendous humour and a great plot that wasn't exploited to it's best advantage. Worth a read on a rainy day.
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on 28 January 2002
Quite ugly one morning starts off at a fast funny pace and simply continues at a high rate of accelleration. I was laughing so loud and so often I was told to shut up in case I woke the neighbours. He is a fan of Bill Hicks and other of my own personal gods so it fits my sick and twisted sense of humour. The plot with its twists and turns will keep you on your seat as the language will have you in the aisles. (NB. You may need to call a friend in Scotland to explain some of the trickier Scots language).
I live in Edinburgh so it was a delight to read a book set here with main characters that continue into his following novels which are all worth purchasing too for as many sleepless nights filled with laugher your alarm clock can stand.
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on 23 April 2006
"Quite Ugly One Morning" was Christopher Brookmyre's first book and consequently this is the first time we get to meet maverick journalist Jack Parlabane. Not only has Jack just returned to his native Scotland after a very narrow escape from work in America he has moved into a flat where the owner of the flat below, Dr Jeremy Ponsonby has just been discovered murdered in a very bloody and brutal fashion.

After another narrow escape when the police first suspect that Jack may actually be the murderer he meets up with the victim's former wife, a young aesthetician named Sarah Slaughter. Whilst Sarah isn't exactly pining for her murdered ex-husband she does suspect that something is not quite right with the burglary-gone-wrong scenario that the police seem to suspect has caused Jeremy's death. Likewise Jack, ever one to sniff out a story, starts to investigate the background to Jeremy's life and also makes an ally of one of the police detectives, Jenny Dalziel

Meanwhile the management of the NHS trust where Jeremy used to work is definitely up to no good. Trust leader Stephen Lime apart from the shady property deals that he's most keen to keep secret from the outside world he is also associating with a very disturbing looking violent criminal.

As with the other Brookmyre books I've read the style is short and punchy with the flavour ranging from caustic wit to gruesome violence. But the violence it does contain isn't without reason and it's not a blood fest with no direction, indeed almost like a Tarrantino film you forgive it for the bloody bits as they are intelligent and done with more than a little tongue in cheek.

One word of advice though would be to read the books in their published order and not do like me and read them out of order. Although the stories themselves are not consecutive it's better to read about how Parlabane comes onto the scene and how he meets Sarah. Both of these characters reappear in other books like "Country of the Blind" as does Jenny Dalziel. Interestingly one of the very minor characters in this book Larry Freeman has a much bigger role in another Brookmyre book "Not the end of the World"
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