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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A welcome change of tone from Brookmyre
Well now, this is a pleasant surprise. Brookmyre's last novel was the first to really break the familiar though hugely enjoyable formula of all his other books - incompetent terrorists or wannabee gangsters getting into explosive siege situations with high bodycounts and an even higher expletive quotient. It was a formula however that was starting to get a bit stale,...
Published on 5 Sep 2007 by Keris Nine

versus
30 of 34 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars oot The Windae
Was looking forward to this when I saw the title and that it was the return of Parlabane investigative journalist.

The book starts with jack telling us he's dead and it's due to his meeting TV psychic Gabriel Lafayette. The story is told by Parlapane and others in a past tense.As a confirmed cynic he's seen as the perfect candidate to take part in scientific...
Published on 30 Aug 2007 by Ian Paterson


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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A welcome change of tone from Brookmyre, 5 Sep 2007
By 
Keris Nine - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Well now, this is a pleasant surprise. Brookmyre's last novel was the first to really break the familiar though hugely enjoyable formula of all his other books - incompetent terrorists or wannabee gangsters getting into explosive siege situations with high bodycounts and an even higher expletive quotient. It was a formula however that was starting to get a bit stale, but with 'Blood and Hard Black Pencil' Brookmyre showed that he was capable of stretching his range a little bit. 'Attack of the Unsinkable Rubber Ducks' goes much further.

It might be slightly toned-down and lacking the usual barrage of one-liners, but Brookmyre's mordant sarcasm and bitter cynicism is still there, and there is no slacking in the writer's mischievous debunking of the establishment. If anything, his target in 'Rubber Ducks' is a rather more pertinent one than the usual government-led conspiracies, small-time ned gangsters and anonymous terrorist organisations. In his targeting of the fraudsters and tricksters who call themselves mediums, spiritualists and psychic entertainers, it's not too much of a stretch to see he is attacking the credulous public's growing tolerance and acceptance for the unscientific beliefs of Creationism and Intelligent Design and their encroachment into the nation's classrooms. (A few sideswipes at the Holyrood and the Daily Mail don't go amiss either).

Anyone looking for the familiar explosive Brookmyre pyrotechnics is going to be disappointed by this new book, but those who consider the author a talented writer will be delighted to see him develop his style and range and put all that bitter rage towards something more meaningful than the enjoyable but all-blurred-into-one homogeneity of his previous books. It's not perfect however. Brookmyre attempts a few sleights of hand of his own here which are delightful to see play out - his research into the tricks of the trade is evident and he makes a convincing case - but the major revelations are rather predictable in their outcome. Still, it's a welcome new change of direction and a progressive one that is very promising indeed.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Brookmyer yet, 5 Jun 2011
By 
Alec (Letchworth Garden City, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Attack Of The Unsinkable Rubber Ducks (Paperback)
This is Brookmyres best yet, a very well sequenced plot that skips a merry dance whilst debunking hokum and bunkum irrespective of whether it is PSI or Whooo as he calls it, or religion - Brookmyre leaves little doubt that to him both are equally ridiculous. Therefore some readers of a religious persuasion may not take to it but for those that do they are in for a treat. A cleverly twisting plot that re-introduces a favourite character - Jack Parlabane.
Brookmyre is at his sarcastic windmill tilting best with this book. Git it up yer - a stoater.

I cannot agree with those who scored this low, it cannot be for reasons of poor plot or development, but each to his own. Not suitable for Christians, Muslims, Spiritualists or other believers in the absurd etc etc you have been warned.

A very, very entertaining read.
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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars oot The Windae, 30 Aug 2007
By 
Ian Paterson "exiledscotsman" (Newcastle Uk) - See all my reviews
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Was looking forward to this when I saw the title and that it was the return of Parlabane investigative journalist.

The book starts with jack telling us he's dead and it's due to his meeting TV psychic Gabriel Lafayette. The story is told by Parlapane and others in a past tense.As a confirmed cynic he's seen as the perfect candidate to take part in scientific experiemnts to prove or disprove as Jack would say all this pyschic nonsense.

It's only really the second half of the book where the tory gets going and I felt the twists for once were fairly easy to predict. The first half is very slow particularly if you already know the character. Maybe with the last two books not being about Jack, Brookmyre felt the need to reference his previous books more.

There's some genuine laugh out moments I particularly liked the character Spammy's explanation for giving up smoking canabis.

For those loyal Brookmyre readers this is ok not his best but still worth reading. For anyone who hasn't read his books before please don't start with this it won't give you a real feel for how good Brookmyre can be.

Jack Parlabane I thought was a great creation with his dry humour and "criminal" methods of investigating here he's led by others and comes across as stupid

To sum up if you love Brookmyre it's worth reading but if you wait for the paperback version you might be glad you waited and saved a few quid.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A quacking good read, 28 Sep 2009
By 
Mr. I. A. Mcdonnell (u.k.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Attack Of The Unsinkable Rubber Ducks (Paperback)
If you have never read Christopher brookmyre you do not know what you are missing.
I suggest you start with the first in the series and work towards this one as some characters are reoccurring (Although all the book are good stand-alone and some are not part of a series).
As always the author is a master of leading you down one path where you totally agree with everything that is being put forward then flip everything is turned on it's head. Genius
He is an absolute master of writing and has nowhere near the recognition he deserves.
Do yourself a favour and get yourself a Christopher brookmyre.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stop obsessing over Jack Parlabane & just enjoy the novel!, 13 Aug 2009
This review is from: Attack Of The Unsinkable Rubber Ducks (Paperback)
It's unfortunate. A lot of the negative reviews on this book have a common thread; namely, that Jack Parlabane's character isn't in 'full throttle' here.

I'll concur with that, but does it really matter that much when the novel itself is so well-plotted?

I'm a relatively new fan of Brookmyre. I've read a few of his books (All fun & Games, Quite Ugly One morning, and A tale etched in Blood), and enjoyed them all, for very different reasons, and Unsinkable Rubber Ducks, like the other novels that I've read, was another superb bit of storytelling, with everything I've come to expect from the author; namely, a great plot, canny twists, likeable characters, and more than just one trick up the sleeve.

But most of all, the subject matter was a real selling point to me.

What I didn't like about the book was that it borrows (whether accident, intention, homage or coincidence) from an old Columbo movie "Columbo Goes to the Guillotine". - Without giving too much away, both tales involved a psychic under scientific scrutiny, and the main character collaborating with a young geeky kid to crack the case. Both even had similar ESP experiments.

However, Unsinkable Rubber Ducks also had Brookmyre's unabashed cheesecloth-grabbing, caustic, lucid, and very funny observations on the whole subject of spiritualism. Penn Jilette would be proud!

Add to that, a whole plethora of twists, deceptions, denouments, and a series of one-fingered salutes to the likes of Derek Acorah & Uri Geller, the only people who wouldn't like it are spiritualists afraid of having their bubbles burst, and anyone who is a little unhealthily obsessed by whether Parlabane is 'on form' or 'off colour' in each of Brookmyre's Parlabane books.

To the latter, I say 'Away wit' ye!'. Like all good recurring main characters, from Poirot to Rebus, moderation is the key. Parlabane is utilised well in this book. If he was too prominent, the story would be overwhelmed. Parlabane is a great spokesperson for unflinching no-nonsense rationality, so maybe it's a bit like shooting fish. It's still funny as hell! If you really need it to work, just imagine that it is not THE Jack Parlabane, but Jack Parlabane's long lost twin brother, who also happens to be called Jack. - Too much of a strech? Come on. You can do it. It's only fiction after all!
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable Hokum Busting, 9 Aug 2007
By 
C. Green "happily low brow" (Quenington, Glos, UK) - See all my reviews
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Christopher Brookmyre's latest novel is a return to satire on the idiocies of modern life; in this case the world of the spiritual and paranormal, the conmen who sell it and the numpties who still buy it(Richard Dawkins would love this book). It also sees the return of reporter and professional sceptic Jack Parlabane. As usual with Brookmyre it is satire topped off with comedy, sarcasm, cultural trivia (the man knows his Firefly) and the odd dollop of murder.

It is also ingeniously plotted, with multiple twists and numerous cases of misdirection, many of which will fool most readers. Although the choice to have multiple narrators does make it a little difficult to get into the book, and the plot makes it necessary for Parlabane to be less than his usually razor sharp self (something I feel others have unfairly criticised it for) nor is the comedy as pitch-black as Jack's last adventure in Be Mine Enemy. This is a far more accessible book than either that or Hard Black Pencil, dealing as it does with far more widely recognised issues or situations and with a gentler tone than some other Brookmyre works.

That's not to say that the author has gone soft. There is still a strong anti-establishment edge to his work (politicians, the popular press and organised religion all get targeted along with the world of 'woo' as he calls it) and a healthy amount of sarcasm. There's just less ultra-violence than was present in Be Mine Enemy and its less Scotland-centric than Hard Black Pencil.

Overall its a clever, amusing and entertaining attempt to knock down one of the less appealing elements of modern society and to argue for rationality over superstition. Whilst never reaching the heights of Brookmyre's best works it is still a very good book that will appeal to anyone of a rational disposition (although not to those who believe in 'woo' or what the Daily Mail tells them)
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24 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars He's at it again, 16 Oct 2007
By 
Martin A. Chambers (U.K.) - See all my reviews
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"I don't like books which are full of gratuitous violence, sexual innuendo, and foul language."
"Aye right?"
"Right"
"Well what about Christopher Brookmyre, you like him?"
"He's different, coz you see he can write"
"So if the Guy can write, he needn't use bad language, need he?"
"Ah well he uses it like an artist uses paint. It's brilliant"
"And what's this, this here masterpiece called then?"
"Attack of the unsinkable rubber ducks"
"Funny name"
"Aye, well"
"Would you recommend it to my mother?"
"I'd recommend it to my mother"
"Aye, but your mother's deid."
"All the more reason"
"Come again, whit do you mean?"
"Not telling, you'll have to read it to find out."

Martin A Chambers
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thank goodness for the superstrong lavvy paper of reason, 15 Aug 2008
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Jack Parlabane has a problem with unsinkable rubber ducks, those "people who are determined to go on believing in woo, no matter how much evidence to the contrary you present them with". We've all met them, apparently rational adults, suckered into buying bottled water or alternative medicine. A few pages in we discover Parlabane's specific beef is with the belief in ghosts: "it's still clinging on to the hairy ring of human comprehension, and the lavvy paper of reason just can't quite wipe it off." As a good rationalist, however, he can't avoid a piece of rather compelling evidence about ghosts: the fact that he has just become one. Being dead is bad enough, but the rubber ducks bouncing up and down quacking "I told you so" are infinitely worse.

That single, pungent, pugnacious image - "the lavvy paper of reason" doing its best under trying circumstances - is pure Parlabane. It also points up one of the big themes - the struggle between faith and reason - that makes this novel punch above its crime genre weight. We want to know the truth about the world, but how? Since ancient Greece, through the Enlightenment and the great scientific revolutions of Galileo and Newton and Einstein and Heisenberg, and continuing into the present day, the difficult path has always been to rely upon reason and evidence as the best route to knowledge. The easy option has always been faith - the "act of believing in things for no good reason".

A clue to the author's ambition and inspiration is the book's dedication to James Randi and Richard Dawkins, both in the vanguard of the New Enlightenment. Brookmyre shares their fascination with the psychology of willing self-deception: how do beliefs for which there is an abject lack of reliable evidence thrive? He also shares their determination to do something about it, to expose some of the ways in which such beliefs take hold, by showing us how his characters respond to the pressure to believe. There is the wealthy Bryant Lemuel, who is receiving messages from his dead wife and trying to establish a "Spiritual Science Chair" at Kelvin University. Gabriel Lafayette takes the paranormal "from the end of the pier to the doors of the laboratory" but, according to Parlabane, has more in common with Linda Lovelace - both had "instigated unfeasible feats of swallowing". And why, according to these true believers, don't physicists ever "encounter any evidence of psychic forces"? Not because scientists are really unlucky - they don't see "because they don't believe."

Funnily enough, for this novel - for any novel - to work its magic, you need to believe, to go along with the fiction. When it comes to stories, I like being taken for a ride, I want to believe this is how things are, and I thoroughly enjoyed my first outing with Parlabane. I hadn't read much crime fiction since an adolescent phase collecting (and sometimes reading) second-hand Agatha Christies, and I didn't approach this as a puzzle to be solved (just as well, since I'm pretty slow at that kind of thing). Some seasoned Brookmyre fans have been more measured in their praise: one reviewer suggests this may not be a good first Brookmyre, and others say it's not his best. I defer to their judgement over where this ranks, but for me this was a brilliant introduction. I can see how you can get a kick out of cracking the plot and predicting its twists, but there's more to this novel than finding out the astonishing fact that...

I'd never heard of Christopher Brookmyre until he was interviewed on the radio. I then read his "Dangerous nonsense" piece in the Guardian. It's nearly always a mistake to identify the opinions of a character in fiction with those of the author, but, when it comes to the unsinkable rubber ducks, there's real overlap between Brookmyre and Parlabane, even down to certain phrases: according to C.B., faith needs the "full point-and-laugh treatment" while J.P. stuffs a couple more snooker balls into his phrase and suggests a "merciless point-and-laugh fest". This is an important reason why faith is still around - it's seen as a virtue and is revered rather than ridiculed, even by those who would rather stab their eyes with hot needles than sit through a sermon. The serious point of both author and main character is that "people should be responsible enough to avail themselves of the facts and, where necessary, adjust their beliefs accordingly". It's hard work and can be messy in an unsexy way - sometimes the lavvy paper of reason tears and leaves you with sticky fingers - but it's the best advice to the detective in each of us, to anyone who wants to get at the truth.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book, 6 Jun 2008
This review is from: Attack Of The Unsinkable Rubber Ducks (Paperback)
I'm a Brookmyre fan, I admit it.

I particularly like this one - it had all the rush, bustle, fun, wit and tight plotting you expect. It also didn't have too much deliberately squirm-making stuff (of the blood and guts variety), which is the only thing I'd fault some of the other books on.

I liked the dedication (to James Randi and Richard Dawkins)
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Time to kill off Parlabane?, 4 Oct 2007
I often find myself, as I'm sure a lot of others do, comparing Christopher Brookmyre with Colin Bateman. There are many similarities; they both write crime-related stuff, they both have a biting wit, they both have a particular character who crops up every other book or so to name but a few. The big difference for me is that, when reading Bateman, I tend to enjoy him best when he is writing about Dan Starkey whereas, with Brookmyre, I prefer him when he ISN'T writing about Jack Parlabane. For me, Not The End Of The World, A Big Boy Did It... and The Sacred Art Of Stealing have been his best works and, although the early Parlabanes were good, I find him stale in later offerings, none more so than here.

Don't get me wrong, the subject matter is good, and Brookmyre's trademark wit and cynicism is there (albeit not in quite the abundance of earlier outings). I just feel that the Parlabane character has been taken as far as he should, and that maybe he should now be left alone.

Shouldn't be too hard. He's dead, right?
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Attack Of The Unsinkable Rubber Ducks
Attack Of The Unsinkable Rubber Ducks by Christopher Brookmyre (Paperback - 5 Jun 2008)
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