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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 59 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: 2478 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 59 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #55,356 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: Paperback Verified Purchase
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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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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This book is fab! It’s so rich in culture and magic and intrigue and mystery. The contrast between the mundanity of Ben’s life against the strange world of alchemy and scrying and angels works really well in this book.

You are kept in the dark quite a lot throughout the story, despite one or two moments of explanation and clarity, but that only adds to the mysteriousness element. Why is Foxe following the steps of a man who lived centuries ago? Why does he want to scry and communicate with angels? What is he trying to achieve by becoming a modern day alchemist?
There are some very interesting twists at the end of the book that I just didn’t see coming (and one that I kind of did, but only right before it happened) and really breathes a new lease of life into the story. Some are subtly done; some are serious and dramatic. The twists are what stayed in my head long after I finished reading.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. It’s quite unique and breaks the mould. I would certainly recommend it if you’re after reading something a bit different from the norm.
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As someone who follows the author's blog, I was looking forward to reading his first novel and I wasn't disappointed.
However, it wasn't what I was expecting and I was surprised that it entered into the fantasy genre but that actually made it more my cup of tea!

The main character, Ben, is difficult to like, being for the most part a pessimist with a thinly-veiled self loathing. However, this works well, creating dry, sometimes dark humour as his observes the failings of humans (usually himself).

His personality is well balanced with the other central character, his friend and boss, Scott, who has more energy and overflowing optimism than your average Labrador. What transpires is a journey of self discovery, with some interesting twists, told via a historical, fantasy thriller which has elements of Da Vinci Code, just with mates from your local pub.

The use of different time periods is interesting and having another viewpoint (from the opposite sex) helps with some background in the narrative but at times it is a little difficult to follow.
However, the only real negative I would have is that some of the action loses tension in its delivery which I felt became a little formulaic - 'this happened, they did this, then we did that' etc. That said, overall the use of language, especially analogies and metaphor, I really enjoyed as the author has employed a unique, funny combination of one-liners to describe the MC's thoughts, feelings and general observations.
It was an easy, entertaining read and is definitely worth a look for the dry, cynical humour alone.
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