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A Tale Etched In Blood And Hard Black Pencil Paperback – 5 Apr 2007

4.1 out of 5 stars 79 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus; New Ed edition (5 April 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0349118809
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349118802
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 2.6 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (79 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 232,182 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

Of all writers practising what might loosely be called crime fiction today, Christopher Brookmyre is the one who lends himself least easily to categorisation. There are those eccentric titles, for a start: such as the latest one: A Tale Etched in Blood and Hard Black Pencil. This unwieldy title (as often before) gives an indication of the sardonic quality of his writing, and in that, Brookmyre is reminiscent of his great American colleague, Carl Hiaasen. Like Hiaasen, too, Brookmyre favours eccentric and outrageous plots, but there is always a strong grounding in reality, which gives the humour a decidedly bitter edge.

Internet contact between ex-school friends these days leads to some disturbing encounters, and Brookmyre's version of the scenario is typically murderous. Brookmyre is interested in whether or not the index to future of violent behaviour might be discerned in the school playground. DS Karen Gillespie is bemused by a cack-handed attempt at burning a pair of bodies; this takes place outside Glasgow (in fact, in the area in which she grew up). And in a nearby lodge, strange attempts have been made to clean up what appears to be the same crime, but (as a pathologist points out), everything here is handled as maladroitly as the murder. Two suspects appear, but when Karen discovers that they were at primary school together (along with one of the murder victims), things begin to look like a grisly version of Friends Reunited.

Brookmyre readers will know exactly what to expect from this scenario, and they won't be disappointed. If the level of invention is not as delirious as in previous books, Karen Gillespie is as quirkily characterised as ever.

--Barry Forshaw


This is the book I would want if I were marooned on a desert island or lost in space (INDEPENDENT)

Brookmyre's antipathies toward the establishment- priests, teachers and crooked officials- are going strong, but are matched with a welcome complexity. (OBSERVER)

Brookmyre has lost none of his wit and panache. (SUNDAY EXPRESS)

If you're looking for a breath of fresh air in this genre, then look no further. (IRISH EXAMINER)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Keris Nine TOP 500 REVIEWER on 16 Mar. 2006
Format: Hardcover
“Are they deid? Jesus Johnnybags, are they both deid? F-‘s sake, man, answer us. F-‘s sake.”
Right from the opening line there’s no mistaking the author’s voice. A dozen or so f-words and derivations and a couple of c-words down the page from another couple of typical incompetent “bampot” killers attempting to dispose of two dead bodies with the assistance of substances purchased from the local B&Q’s chemical cleaner department confirm the impression - we are most definitely in a new Christopher Brookmyre novel.
Yet, despite the familiarity of the opening dialogue and the situation, Brookmyre manages to find a new spin on his hilariously profane crime novels. Reminiscent of the memories fired-up in the old school-reunion situation of ‘One Fine Day in The Middle of the Night’, Brookmyre goes back even further this time and reminisces on the bonds formed between a group of children who all start school together at St. Elizabeth’s Primary in Braeside – all depicted in detail, year by year from primary one through to sixth form - with the author’s typical wit and keenness of observation. It adds considerable charm to the backgrounds of the characters who we later find mixed up in a multiple homicide many years later, as well as giving us the joy of seeing Brookmyre stretch his writing skills.
This time around, the ultra-violence is relegated to a welcome second place in favour of a spot-on account of growing up during the 70s up to the mid-80s.
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Format: Hardcover
No explosions in this one, but all the other Brookmyre hallmarks are there - an intricate plot, complex and believable characters and a hefty dose of dry humour. It's easy to make comparisons with his earlier school-reunion book One Fine Day In The Middle Of The Night, but if anything this is slightly grimmer and more adult. This is probably due to the aforementioned lack of explosions, but also because he takes the brave step of killing off a character that you've come to care about (not a spoiler, don't worry; the body is discovered in the very first sentence).

The book opens with short scenes alternating between two panicked guys trying to hide some bodies, and the police discovering the remains shortly afterwards. An unfortunately-placed page break had me briefly confused, as it made it look like the police were doing the inept body-disposal themselves, but that was just bad layout - one thing you can be sure of with Brookmyre is that his characters are never going to act in inappropriate ways for the sake of a plot device. The first two criminals - old classmates of both the detective and the victim - are quickly apprehended, but of course it's not as simple as that (or it'd be a very short book). The subsequent police-procedural murder investigation then takes something of a back seat, as we go back to follow the characters' journey through the horrors of primary school, to see what clues can be found there.

This is a welcome return to classic, old-style murder mystery, where villains can be tracked down by unravelling the background and the motives - Patricia Cornwell and her forensic-detecting ilk are all very well, but as bad guys go, motiveless psychopaths are a bit of a cop-out.
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Format: Paperback
The 10th Christopher Brookmyre book written and the 10th I have read. I loved the concept by painting the stories of all the victims and suspects of a brutal double murder as school kids could you deduce what happened ?

It will certainly help if you are 30+ for being able to relate the school Brookmyre talks about as the school you attended. This is his shortest book since the Quite Ugly debut and I think he could have added to it without having spoiled anything. I really enjoyed that the school parts were written from several different voices and so you weren't just having 1 central character. The scottish slang is thick in this book however there is a very tongue in cheek glossary at the back which is hilarious even when read seperate from the book.

After having seen International espionage and elaborate heists in his last books it was great to almost celebrate the small town location and mentality of this book.

A great read and I'll be checking frequently for number 11
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Format: Hardcover
Let me say upfront that it is very easy for me to relate to this book as I am 'of an age' and the pop-culture references are ones I can easily relate to.Having said that,I read some Sunday supplement reviews of this that were good but not great but we bought it anyway.My wife read it first and loved it,then I prised it from her grasp and enjoyed it even more. The "loud wind during the primary school assembly and headmaster having a flakey" bit had me on the floor.I haven't laughed that hard for a long time.The recreation of schooldays was amazingly evocative.

A very clever book which works on quite a few levels.

I would like to hear the opinions from people who are a little further removed from this culturally - like I said,it was a very easy book for me to relate to - to see how it reads from the outside but from the inside,it reads very well!

I think that the parade of evil bampot teachers, brainiacs and

psychos that is part of going to school will definitely ring most people's bell at some level.

I would hope that its appeal stretches further than the West of Scotland.It deserves to.

PS - My primary school burnt down when I was very young too.Spooky.

PPS - I didn't do it.
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