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The Life Assistance Agency: Who wants to live forever? by [Hocknell, Thomas]
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The Life Assistance Agency: Who wants to live forever? Kindle Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 53 customer reviews

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Length: 320 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Review

Hocknell mixes esoterica with playful storytelling and arch wit. --EO Higgins - Author of Conversations with Spirits

I was so immersed in this utterly bonkers reading experience I greedily devoured it in one sitting. There's a cracking turn of events and it's walloped in some brilliant one liners too. Undoubtedly, considerable attention has been paid to merging the past and the present which are brought alive by the frantic finesse of mystic mayhem, and a constant stream of curiosity that I found impossible to ignore. Unquestionably quirky. Brilliantly barmy. Absolutely recommended. --Wendy Smart, Little Bookness Lane blog

As best I can discover, this is Hocknell's premiere novel. I certainly hope it's not his last, because he does an excellent job of weaving together stories in two different timelines. It was consistently engaging, with pleasant twists and revelations along the way. The characters were interesting - even when not lovable. I will most certainly keep an eye out for future work from Thomas Hocknell. He's an author I look forward to reading again. --Brian Profitt, Book Reviewer

About the Author

Thomas Hocknell is from Kent and lives in London. He has been a social worker, car salesman and gardener. He attended the Faber Academy and The Life Assistance Agency is his first novel. His regular Idle Blogs of an Idle Fellow aims to embrace random topics of modern living, but mostly complains about other people's inability to make decent tea. He also writes for Classic Pop magazine, the Good Men Project and The Line of Best Fit.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2678 KB
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Urbane Publications (22 Sept. 2016)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B01JDPGZHO
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars 53 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #127,029 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Hocknell’s debut novel takes us on a journey through Europe – past and present – as his central character, Ben Ferguson-Cripps, attempts to hunt down missing historian, Thomas Foxe. Ben is the rather cynical, world-weary author of a mildly popular blog, who has produced his first novel (just like Thomas Hocknell) to very faint acclaim (hopefully less like Thomas Hocknell). Since sales of his novel are so poor, Ben accepts a job working for his old friend, Scott Wildblood, owner of the mysterious Life Assistance Agency, which offers an improbable and rather ridiculous range of services including finding soul mates, arranging hits, and bonsai trimming.

Scott and Ben take on the task of locating the aptly-named Mr. Foxe, who leads them a merry dance across Europe. They are closely tailed throughout this enterprise by two thugs who desperately want to get to Mr. Foxe before they do. So far so good.

Unfortunately, these thugs are employed by the Psychic Society and are intent on preventing ordinary folk from straying into the occult; they’re hunting Mr. Foxe because the latter is retracing the steps of Dr. John Dee, an Elizabethan angel summoner. Mr. Foxe, himself, has more than a passing interest in scrying (communing with angels), alchemy and the secret of eternal life. And thus the novel passes into the realms of the fantastical and frankly ridiculous.

Having said that, there are, however, wonderful things about this novel. Firstly, it’s chock full of very funny, laugh-out-loud one liners that I’m still sniggering about such as, “He pulled a face like Morrissey playing downwind from burgers,” or “like finding a late tent pitch at Glastonbury and waking up on the main stage.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Ben Fergusson-Cripps: owner of a half-cocked blog, the copyright to a book, and an unusual double-barrelled surname, is currently watching his life swirl down the pan after the launch of his literary debut, Mirrors and Lies. Just as the tome tries to debunk psychics and spiritually, all everyone else wants to do was debunk him and you can sense his nonchalant desperation from page one.

Quickly coming to terms that he needs a day job to prevent him eating out of dustbins, a business card from The Life Assistance Agency left on a pub table piques his interest. The company claims to offer solutions to all manner of calamities including the finding lost things, arranging coincidences, and bonsai trimming.

A desperate Ben finds himself in need of their ‘talents’ to turn his life around and visits an office he finds is manned by an old acquaintance who is delighted to clap eyes on him, even though the telephone is sitting in the middle of the floor and it looks like they should call their own help line and request immediate assistance.

When Ben enquired what life assistance agencies do, Scott Wildblood replied, “It’s like a detective agency without detectives.” That’s when Ben’s temporary career move took flight, with their first case to find a missing man from Mortlake. The trail of the eccentric University lecturer will take them from Kent to Krakow in a battered Saab, with nothing but Scott’s heart pills rattling around in the foot well to keep them on their toes.

On a road trip from hell, the not-very-dynamic-duo stay in flea pit hotels while stumbling across relics of historical or psychic significance.
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Format: Paperback
The Life Assistance Agency has more promotional key rings than customers when it is unexpectedly tasked with its first and probably most challenging mission: to find one Mr Foxe, a missing academic lecturer at UCL. The search will take the Agency's two hapless employees Scott and Ben from Marble Arch to Prague via the sixteenth century and the life and work of the alchemist and mage Dr. John Dee.

The book cracks along at a terrific pace, with the breathtaking chase after Foxe interspersed with extracts from the diaries of Dee's wife Jane. I enjoyed the humour, and the twisty denouement, which I won't spoil for a prospective reader by revealing. This is a fun read, and an excellent outing for a first time novelist. A few stylistic quibbles ~ I think Jane Dee's diary could have been more lexically distanced from the main narrative voice, thus providing a different and contrasting story strand, but conceptually, the plot held together well and it is a book I would definitely recommend.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Life Assistance Agency is a clever and humorous novel. It's not my usual kind of read and I found it a little hard to grasp in some parts. However, the wit and quirkiness of the plot kept me enthralled. I found LAA a mysterious and challenging book, very well researched and definitely worth pursuing to the end. Well deserved 5*****
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I wasn't sure what to expect, and like other reviewers I was really happily surprised by a page-turning, slightly weird, very funny, well written and paced story that doesn't quite fit into any genre. The author's done a great job here of both depth and breadth -- taking in a historical and modern day Europe, and drawing persons with definite and clear differences, but also really balancing the two narratives together well. There's plenty of humour, but also some very careful and subtle touches such as the ways in which angels are portrayed, and the ways secrets are kept. I did see the end coming but only just, but that wasn't a bad thing, just that the novel fell into place for me the same way it did for the protagonist Ben. There were a couple of editorial glitches in my copy, but in a way you could almost blame them on the characters' flaws, which simply adds to the sense of what the book is about--a freewheeling, weird search for identity and for the more mysterious essence of life.

There's some very strong writing here, particularly in the historical sections of Jane Dee's diary, and one or two touches of lovely brilliance. The author also has a very quirky eye for the unusual and the mundane, transforming it to paint a world that is both identifiable and a great escap(ad)e for the reader.
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