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4.5 out of 5 stars42
4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 1 October 2011
It has taken a long time coming but it's been worth the wait. Fans of Layer Cake will not be disappointed by this slick, clever sequel. It has all of Connolly's trademark deft twists of plot and brilliant characterisation and in places is comedy gold. The gangster genre can be tired and derivative but in Connolly's hands it becomes a gripping rollercoaster. Unlike a lot of authors who jumped on the bandwagon, you get the feeling that Connolly really knows these people and what he's at. It is authentic and at times chilling. Utterly fantastic.
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on 6 January 2015
This book is absolutely bonkers. While the title of Connolly's debt novel Layer Cake took some explaining, right up until the main character's final denouement, this name is clear from the outset. The story is set in summer 2001 and takes up the tale of two of the main men from Layer Cake, the anonymous narrator and Morty, his link to the criminal underworld. They inhabit a world of drug dealing and crime, but this is also mixed up with international high finance, computer hackery and even the military industrial complex. Illiterate but street smart villains plotting up with duplicitious toffs. It gets stranger and stranger, which is good. The plot twists are good, and the portrayals of the lengths crims will go to are staggering.

He's also very good on dialogue - can you believe the words being said? Well, given that we'd seen Daniel Craig in Girl With The Dragon Tattoo recently, and that he played the same character in the prequel to this tale, you can't fail if you place his dry delivery and brooding insolence as you go, indeed, he is so clearly at the forefront of Connolly's mind again too. There are other unstated reasons why all the ugly gangsters dislike him - he's a stunner, right? There's lots of detail about London's layers, from Mayfair to East Acton, but on the whole it's just a mental story. Highly recommended. - See more at:
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on 11 October 2011
I've waited long years for this book - but I haven't waited in vain. Viva la Madness is a gripping sequel to the groundbreaking Layer Cake. The story takes off like a hurricane in a barrel and then quickly gathers pace! Twists and turns come rocking and rolling at breakneck speed. During the few brief lulls in the action I took a moment to marvel at Connolly's mastery of the singular language of London's criminal brotherhood and to delight in his hilarious descriptions of their attire. Baddies out-bad and double cross one another with wild abandon all over and under the mean streets and fancy hotels of the capital with nary a cozzer in sight. You know it's all going to end in tears.
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on 11 November 2011
A long awaited sequel; it's something like ten years since Layer Cake was first published but well worth waiting for.

Almost 450 pages, Viva La Madness is long and sometimes I struggle with this length of novel. I'm happy to report I had no such problems. The narrative hooked me from page one, keeping me wriggling on the line like an exhausted kipper.

Set in 2001, Viva La Madness picks up the story of the anonymous drug dealing hero from Layer Cake; now retired, keeping his head down and picking up a suntan in the West Indies. But he is soon pulled back to Blighty and the cut-throat, murky drug business by his friend and associate Mister Mortimer.

Cue an amazing cast of characters and a story line with heavy London underworld gangsters, gun toting Venezuelan drug cartels, international money laundering and high tech banking fraud.

Written in the same first person point of view as Layer Cake, Viva La Madness has a truly authentic voice, witty sharp dialogue, and a complex plot. Moving at breakneck pace; Viva La Madness is believable, farcical and violent at times as our hero finds his life literally on the line and begins to regret his decision to come out of early retirement, longing again for the sunny, easy life of the Caribbean.

Viva La Madness treated me well and is highly recommended reading.
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on 14 October 2011
I love Layer Cake. It's one of the few books I re-read every year, so I was very excited to see the follow-up book was out & ordered it straight away.

Unfortunately I found it very disappointing. The things I loved about Layer Cake were missing or just weren't at the same level: the pace, the humour, the language, the insight. The characters seemed flatter and the book dragged - things didn't really get going until almost half way through.

Without giving anything away, most of all I hated the ending & the device Connolly used to bring the story to an end. It felt lazy, a bit cheap and it's been done. A lot.

Perhaps my disappointment is making me harsher, but this was nowhere near the standard I was expecting after Layer Cake.
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on 17 February 2012
I watched layer cake and it was ok, i read the book and raved about it, he had the plastic gangsters down to a tee, right from the start when he warns Morty not to call him Son, and then he is referred to in that way throughout. Unfortunately, although I enjoyed this book, it was not what I expected. I feel he should have stuck to his descriptions of UK criminals and criminality, crazy coke head steroid monsters, and the real characters in the shadows that keep their hands clean.

This was not the book I expected, and dampened the mad excitement i felt when I saw he had published a sequel. I agree that the Sept11 reference was a bit cheesy - the first book was quite hard to date, and I liked that a lot.
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on 10 October 2011
I liked Layer Cake, but this one is better in my opinion, like Connolly was just finding his voice before and this is the real thing. Smoother and slicker, it's one for the collection. Well worth reading again.
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on 9 September 2012
Well lets be honest here ...writing a follow-up to one of the UK's
best crime thrillers was always going to be a tall order. Layer Cake
set the standard but for me Viva La Madness doesn't quite reach those
heady heights. The main thing I found is that I really didn't believe the
scenarios . Whereas in Layer Cake I could really imagine all that craziness
actually happening with Viva La Madness it was all too much fanciful make-believe.
But there is one hopeful possibility...maybe if they make a movie of this book
it will actually be better than the novel.
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on 24 January 2013
In my humble opinion, yes. I enjoyed the book layer cake but couldn't help but think the film was better, slicker. However, now having read Viva La Madness I'm disappointed they killed the main character off in the film layer cake, because they'll never make a viva la madness movie!!

This book moves along at such a frenetic pace with twists and turns a plenty. Well written, full of dark humour, action and a smattering of mad south Americans mixed in with the Cockney gangsters.

Definitely worth a read.
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on 22 October 2014
A friend recommended this book to me and I'd never thought of going out of my way to read Layer Cake (after having seen the film).

Viva La Madness is very good, its well written, the plot is imaginative and hard not to engage with. At one point I did think the book was a bit too long however I persisted and well, err I don't want to spoil it but...

If you like the British Crime genre give Last Seen in Bangkok a go
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