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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Acerbic, Exhilarating Tour de Force
One of the three main characters in this book is a sleight of hand specialist. Zal Innez previously appeared in the excellent `The Sacred Art of Stealing' alongside Angelique De Xavia, the policewoman who hunted him down, then let him escape because she loved him. His stagecraft is a metaphor for this book insofar as NOTHING is as it seems and author Christopher Brookmyre...
Published on 24 Aug 2008 by G. J. Oxley

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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lacks Character
Sometimes I worry that I'm horribly out of touch, because books that seem to get universally glowing reviews on Amazon often leave me feeling a little bit disappointed. This is certainly the case with A Snowball in Hell, Christopher Brookmyre's latest satirical swipe at contemporary British society. Whilst others seem to have found it a wonderful read I came away with...
Published on 12 Sep 2008 by C. Green


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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Acerbic, Exhilarating Tour de Force, 24 Aug 2008
By 
G. J. Oxley "Gaz" (Tyne & Wear, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: A Snowball In Hell (Paperback)
One of the three main characters in this book is a sleight of hand specialist. Zal Innez previously appeared in the excellent `The Sacred Art of Stealing' alongside Angelique De Xavia, the policewoman who hunted him down, then let him escape because she loved him. His stagecraft is a metaphor for this book insofar as NOTHING is as it seems and author Christopher Brookmyre stuns us regularly throughout with a whole series of brilliant set-pieces of misdirection.

Here, Angelique relocates and recruits Zal to help her capture arch-baddie Simon Darcourt (who previously appeared in `A Big Boy Did it and Ran Away, together with Angelique). Zal and Angelique put their unresolved love affair on hold as they pursue Darcourt, who is capturing celebrity after celebrity and killing them in his own bizarre version of a reality TV show. She also has a special vested interest in apprehending him that I won't give away.

Halfway through this book I actually thought Christopher was trowelling on the satire too heavily, taking pot shots at too many easy targets: crap racist 70s comedians, gold-digging WAGS, reality TV, manufactured teen bands, splenetic right wing newspaper columnists. And some of these had already been covered by Ben Elton in `Dead Famous' and `Chart Throb'. But I have to say I was then bowled over by an excellent bit of misdirection - pure Jeffrey Deaver in execution - and was later actually punching the air and grinning from ear to ear at the audacity of later examples of his legerdemain.

It goes without saying that there are several hilarious passages, and that Christopher is 1000% more caustic than Ben Elton, or the other writer he's often compared to, Florida's own moral guardian, the great Carl Hiaasen.

`A Snowball in Hell' is a high-octane mix of thriller, satire... and love story, the latter proving that CB has a heart beneath his curmudgeonly exterior. It is also quite superb and right up there with the very best of his books. And as I mentioned earlier, the plot twists are breath-takingly good.

Recommended highly to all lovers of crime thrillers, satire, humour, and indeed anyone in general who likes a good read. However, one word of warning: you don't necessarily have to have read either of the two CB titles I mentioned above, but I recommend you do otherwise you may find the first 20-30 pages, and a few later plot references, a touch difficult to follow.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Acerbic, Exhilharating Tour De Force, 6 Dec 2008
By 
G. J. Oxley "Gaz" (Tyne & Wear, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: A Snowball in Hell (Paperback)
One of the three main characters in this book is the sleight of hand specialist, Zal Innez who previously appeared in the excellent `The Sacred Art of Stealing' alongside policewoman Angelique De Xavia. His stagecraft is a metaphor for this book insofar as NOTHING is as it seems and author Christopher Brookmyre stuns us regularly throughout with a whole series of brilliant set-pieces of misdirection.

Here, Angelique relocates and recruits Zal to help her capture arch-baddie Simon Darcourt (who previously appeared in `A Big Boy Did it and Ran Away, together with Angelique). Zal and Angelique put their unresolved love affair on hold as they pursue Darcourt, who is capturing celebrity after celebrity and killing them in his own bizarre version of a reality TV show. She also has a special vested interest in apprehending him that I won't give away.

Halfway through this book I actually thought Christopher was trowelling on the satire too heavily, taking pot shots at too many easy targets: crap racist 70s comedians, gold-digging WAGS, reality TV, manufactured teen bands, splenetic right wing newspaper columnists. And some of these had already been covered by Ben Elton in `Dead Famous' and `Chart Throb'. But I have to say I was then bowled over by an excellent bit of misdirection - pure Jeffrey Deaver in execution - and was later actually punching the air and grinning from ear to ear at the audacity of later examples of his legerdemain.

It goes without saying that there are several hilarious passages, and that Christopher is 1000% more caustic than Ben Elton, or the other writer he's often compared to, Florida's own moral guardian, the great Carl Hiaasen.

`A Snowball in Hell' is a high-octane mix of thriller, satire... and love story, the latter proving that CB has a heart beneath his curmudgeonly exterior. It is also quite superb and right up there with the very best of his books. And as I mentioned earlier, the plot twists are breath-takingly good.

Recommended highly to all lovers of crime thrillers, satire, humour, and indeed anyone in general who likes a good read. However, one word of warning: you don't necessarily have to have read either of the two CB titles I mentioned above, but I recommend you do otherwise you may find the first 20-30 pages, and a few later plot references, a touch difficult to follow.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another cracker from Scotland's best not-so-well-kept secret, 25 Aug 2008
By 
Mr. Ryan Miller (Glasgow(ish)) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A Snowball in Hell (Paperback)
So let's consider the facts, familiar characters (from at least 3 different previous books), familiar unapologetic in-your-face style, typical west of Scotland sense of humour...so, you have to ask, is it all going to start getting a bit boring?...answer, not a snowball's chance in hell (sorry about that!).

After waiting patiently over the last few months for my next Brookmyre fix, I polished off 'Snowball in Hell' in two mesmeric sittings. As always, I found myself laughing out loud throughout the novel at Brookmyre's depiction of Scottish humour and attitudes. If there is another writer out there doing what he does better, I have yet to come across him/her. While this ability to make people laugh is undoubtedly a key to Brookmyre's success, his ability to tell a story and seduce the reader into suspending their disbelief and losing themselve in the plot is what keeps me and i'm sure many others coming back for more.

Snowball sees the return of Simon Dacourt, Brookmyre's resident ego-maniacal mercenary terrorist. Again, the fate of Dacourt is tied to the success of the book's heroine, Angelique de Xavier, Glesga Polis' posterchild for equal opportunities given her ugandan/glasweigan heritage. Xavier has aged both physically and emotionally since thwarting Dacourt's last terrorist outing, years which have added even more venom and cynicism to her professional posterier. Brookmyre does a much better job though of revealing a softer side to the character, making her a much more multi-dimensional and, for it, likeable heroine. Her relationship with Zal, he of The Sacred Art of Stealing fame, flits seasmlessy from centre stage to background issue as Dacourt's latest venture, turning the world of celebrity on its head by executing z-list celebs on tv, leaves her with excruciating life or death decisions and contemplating the road her life has taken.

The story pops and fizzes as usual with the now trademark twists and turns that keep the reader guessing, although never to the point where it becomes anything less than engrossing.

After two sittings, I once again find myself despondent that I am going to have to wait so long for my next Brookmyre fix. I urge you, if you have never had the pleasure of losing yourself in one of his novels, to take the plunge! I can almost guarantee you won't regret it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Alakazammy, stairheid rammy, 13 Sep 2008
By 
Ian Paterson "exiledscotsman" (Newcastle Uk) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A Snowball In Hell (Paperback)
Alakazammy stairheid rammy ! The perfect recipe add your best hero DI de Xavia resurrect your best villian Simon Darcourt, sprinkle with the charisma of the brilliant thief/magician Zal add lashings of dark cutting satire and shape into one of the best reads of 2008 so far.

So Simon Dacourt terrorist for hire last seen in A Big Boy Did It And Ran Away is not dead after all he's targeting celebrities and playing out his sick games through the Internet and dominating the media but for what reason why after all these years has he blown his cover ?
De xavia who brought about his demise last time is tasked with capturing him and recruits Zal (The Sacred Art Of Stealing) to assist

What follows is a fantastic story with loads of laugh out funny moments and a huge amount of twists and turns that any thriller writer would be proud, there is no way is anyone is going to guess what is going to happen next

Simon Cowell , big brother, wags, x factor, and right wing columnists are just some of the targets for his dark superb satire
With some fantastic funny uniquely Scottish turn of phrases that would make a builder blush

Hands up I thought after his last two novels that Brookmyre was on the wane but that was obviously just a bit of misdirection but not only is this a resounding turn to form but I think the might well be the best of all twelve of Brookmyre's books.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sharp, Witty, Genius, 13 Sep 2008
This review is from: A Snowball In Hell (Paperback)
I am a big fan of CB and have been since I first read Quite Ugly One Morning many many years ago. I thought this was brilliant, right up there with All Fun and Games and a Big Boy Did It (And Ran Away). Thought provoking, funny, I will never watch reality TV in the same way again. It was only a matter of time before someone had a crack at the plethora of wannabe celebrities out there and I for one am glad it was someone with Brookmyre's wit and intelligence that did it. Not since I read 'Silence of the Lambs" have I secretly rooted for the serial killer and yet been glad to witness his downfall at the hands of a clever nemesis (or nemesi - whatever the plural is). Brilliant. Funny. Recommend it to friends and strangers.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lacks Character, 12 Sep 2008
By 
C. Green "happily low brow" (Quenington, Glos, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A Snowball In Hell (Paperback)
Sometimes I worry that I'm horribly out of touch, because books that seem to get universally glowing reviews on Amazon often leave me feeling a little bit disappointed. This is certainly the case with A Snowball in Hell, Christopher Brookmyre's latest satirical swipe at contemporary British society. Whilst others seem to have found it a wonderful read I came away with the distinct impression that it was a series of rants, albeit entertaining ones, hung on paper-thin plotting and characterisation, rather than a truly satisfying novel.

Part of the problem for me was the characters Brookmyre decides to revisit in the book. I never found Angelique D'Xavier or Zal Innez to be particularly interesting characters, and Simon Darcourt, the source of most of the satirical pot shots, feels like nothing more than a mouthpiece for the author's views on celebrity and society in general. None of them have wit of Jack Parlabane, the ordinary humanity of Jane Bell from 'All Fun & Games' or are as funny as the likes of Spammy from Country of the Blind. As a result I found myself investing far less in events on the page.

My second issue was the plot and structure of the book. Brookmyre loves his convoluted plots, which always skirt along the edges of plausibility, but I felt with this one he had to work so hard to avoid gaping holes developing that too much time was spent on exposition and explanation, slowing the pace of events in places and detracting from more important elements of the story. Furthermore by keeping all three main protagonists apart for two thirds of the book's length and thereby constantly swapping plot strands the narrative flow was more of a stop/start affair. It also resulted in a denoument that felts truncated and rushed once everyone was eventually brought together.

Finally, and most importantly, I found there to be a dearth of real laugh out loud moments on offer. Yes, some of Darcourts rants against the vacuity of modern life were sharp and spot on, but they didn't feel particularly original or come across as that funny. At most Snowball in Hell raised an amused smile or a wry chuckle, which isn't really enough for a Christopher Brookmyre novel.

I think that with Snowball In Hell Christopher Brookmyre had targets that he wanted to hit, from TV Talent shows to right-wing tabloid commentators, and he wrote a book that would allow him to do just that. What he forgot to do at the same time however, was to pay enough attention to wrapping a satisfying comedy thriller around the point scoring and this shows in the weakness of plot, character and comedy.

No doubt many ardent Brookmyre fans will disagree with my point of view, and Snowball in Hell hasn't put me off buying his next book. I still think he is a great writer, satirist and observer of the human condition. I just think that sometimes he allows his desire to score points against his chosen targets to get in the way of a great story and this is one of those times.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Slick, Sick and Hilarious, 7 Sep 2008
By 
A. Skudder (Crawley, West Sussex) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A Snowball In Hell (Paperback)
Its always a worry starting a new book by a favourite writer. What if they have jumped the shark with this one? You would still continue reading their books, but get less excited about the prospect and less fulfilled by the result. An additional worry is when you start the book and find that it is not set in the familiar place or with the familiar characters - will you take to the new setting? Did you actually like the writing of the previous books or just the characters?

No need to worry about jumping the shark with this new Brookmyre book though - its as good as ever. Jack Parlabane is given a rest this time though, and the star of the show is Angelique de Xavier from A Big Boy Did It And Ran Away and The Sacred Art of Stealing. Even better, the baddie from 'Big Boy' is back and nastier than ever and Angel X has to enlist the help of Zal Innez from 'Stealing' to help her out.

As per usual the story is immensely well plotted, with perhaps even more twists and turns. Again there is the humour, some of it very dark. To continue ticking all the boxes, there are the casual cultural and technical references revealing a writer in touch with the modern world and assuming his audience is too - when a cultural reference is thrown in there is no condescending explanation of it. On top of all this there is the social commentary, and it is all delivered with a generous helping of expletives. This mixture makes it like a Ben Elton novel but darker, grittier and much more Scottish.

My only criticism of the book is that it is too damned good. I was so eager to know what happens next that I put off doing other things just to continue with it and it was over in no time at all. My consolation is that I know I will be reading it again some time.

This time around the plot concerns the return of Simon Darcourt, previously thought dead. In his own way he is making a point about reality TV by creating his own version, kidnapping celebrities, subjecting them to humiliation, torturing them and killing them before streaming the results on the Internet. At times his schemes and traps are like the Saw movies - but with jokes.

The book is a clever mixture of first- and third-person with the transitions managed seamlessly. Likewise the jumps between the main narrative and flashbacks is effortlessly natural, even when it is being deliberately misleading. One theme of the book is misdirection - as a magician's technique and as it applies to criminal endeavours - and Brookmyre has no qualms about using a little playful misdirection himself. To give examples would spoil the plot, so you have to take my word for it.

Anyone who has read previous Brookmyre books will not need to know any more than that this is as good as the rest. I think this book would work for anyone not familiar with the two earlier ones featuring Angelique X as it does expand a little on past history but surely you get more from it having read 'Big Boy' and 'Stealing' first.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A killer with ratings!, 15 Aug 2008
By 
Sara Chung (SF, CA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A Snowball In Hell (Paperback)
With "A Snowball in Hell" (I do recommend you read "A Big Boy Did It and Ran Away" and "The Sacred Art of Stealing" before this one) Brookmyre is again his sharp funny self with a very dark side. Simon Darcourt is a celebrity killer in more ways than one. First he enjoys murdering famous people, especially ones who have no talent or reason for being famous. But he has become a celebrity in his own right via his posting real time video of his killings and to make things really interesting he lets visitors to his site vote on wether the victim lives or dies. This makes for some wonderfully black humor. Darcourt's website is getting more hits than Google and he is more famous then the last winner of American Idol. It is again up to Angelique De Xavier to try and bring Darcourt to justice. This is a deliciously funny and dark read that I highly recommend. Best thriller I have read since "A Tourist in the Yucatan!"
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another classic from the Master, 27 July 2009
This review is from: A Snowball In Hell (Paperback)
Not my favourite book from this author (All Fun And Games Until Someone Loses An Eye still holds the jersey), but it's right up there.

Brookmyre is criticised by some reviewers here for voicing his own opinions through his characters; I say that is exactly why his brand of Scottish satirical humour goes down so well with so many readers. In this book the delightfully evil Simon Darcourt reappears from the dead - he is probably the sole reason that this title is so close to being my favourite Brookmyre offering so far. Darcourt's actions are cruel, disgusting and shocking to the core, but you cannot deny the brilliance of his sarcasm, nor (in my humble opinion) disagree with his utter disdain for reality TV and wannabe celebrity culture.

Can't wait for the next one... hurry up!!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Massively entertaining, 18 Sep 2008
By 
P. G. Harris - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Snowball In Hell (Paperback)
A hard boiled heroine, a sensitive intelligent hero, a black hearted villain with a passion for indie pop, vicious satire of contemporary media culture, exuberant wit, sufficient plot twists to turn one cross-eyed.

Nope, I can't find anything not to like. A thoroughly recommended and entertaining raead
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A Snowball In Hell
A Snowball In Hell by Christopher Brookmyre (Paperback - 2 April 2009)
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