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Scottish writer John Niven's debut novel 'Kill Your Friends' is one of those books which had me addicted from the first few pages, not to mention howling with laughter. Although it was first published in 2008, this cracking read is now back on the shelves to correspond with the recent feature film starring Nicholas Hoult. I'm so glad that it has been republished, because if it hadn't have been staring at me in a supermarket last week, I might never have got my hands on this little gem.

Set in London during the height of the Britpop musical craze, ruthless, sharp-tongued, self-driven, cocaine snorting A&R man Steven Stelfox finds himself going to such extremes in order to find his next hit record. As the music business is starting to steadily change, in an attempt to keep his career afloat, being a thoroughly unpleasant individual already, he turns to murder quite naturally.

The plot line is wonderfully funny anyway, but really, it's the lines which come out of Steven Stelfox's extremely filthy and spiteful mouth which provide the most laugh-out-loud moments. It's very well-written, an engrossing, fast paced page-turner, but where there is plentiful comedy, there is probably just as much fact and difficult truth about the music industry and how the moneymen behind-the-scenes treat the artists once their five minutes in the spotlight are over, or when the recording careers of these once successful musicians begin to hit the skids. Author John Niven left the music industry in 2002 after over a decade of working with record companies, so he has a lot of first-hand experience.

'Kill Your Friends' will make just as good reading to those of you interested in music and what goes on behind-the-scenes, as it will for those of you who enjoy black comedy. If you are considering buying it, and not one who is easily offended, just do it!
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on 16 January 2011
This book is about one man's attempt to rise to the top in the music industry. Stelfox is a ruthless, sexist, racist drug and alcohol abuser who seemingly has no moral compass and does whatever it takes for his own personal gain. Doesn't sound very nice, does he? Well, no, but he is a very entertaining character who is king of one-liners and put-downs. This book is hilariouly well-written and I can't wait for more from Niven.
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on 7 March 2017
Forget the saddo reviewers with no sense of humour. One of the funniest laugh out loud books I've ever read.
If you have a broad mind and a sick sense of humour this is the book for you.
Loved it.
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on 14 April 2016
Its okay
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on 8 April 2016
Brutal depiction of the music industry of the 70s. Well written.
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on 6 September 2017
I was given this book from a friend, took me a few chapters to get into it, but once you stick with it is a fantastic read, dark reading in places and was a very also very funny in most with one last liners and phrases. Purchasing the paper back to add to the collection.
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on 8 January 2011
This is a hilarious book, that you will not want to put down until the end. Stellfox is a memorably brilliant character whose opinions and shenanigans will really make you guffaw. It's a dark yet really well written novel with strong characters about the UK music industry in the 90s and one mans efforts to get to the top. Language. Sex. Violence. Other.
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on 15 April 2015
If the repeated references to taking cocaine (let alone any of the many other drugs) had been edited out of this book then it could almost have been 11 rather than 12 chapters long. For a short novel, there's a lot of repetition. Some works but, in my opinion, some doesn't (or maybe the constant snorting is an explanation for Steven, the protagonist's, completely amoral behaviour).

There's some excellent writing in the novel and some stinging satire that hits all its vacuous, image-obsessed late 90s targets -- both in the music industry and, by extension, in wider society at the time. Readers in much less glamorous jobs than record-industry A&R will be able to sympathise with the protagonist's contempt for talentless, phoney and over-promoted colleagues, although it's a weakness in the novel that Steven Stelfox doesn't demonstrate that he's any better at what he does than any of those he loathes. Similarly, it gets quite wearing for everyone in the novel's music industry world to be crap and talentless -- when a writer tries to conjure up work in another form (e.g. music, painting) it's far easier to portray it as rubbish.

No doubt it's meant to be ironic but the blatant snobbery, misogyny and racism revealed in Stelfox's inner monologue is hard to stomach. Much of it isn't clever or inventive and it's also very repetitive but it's probably 'of its time' and has dated very quickly.

I didn't particularly enjoy the graphic violence in the more brutal parts of the novel but these were nevertheless well-written.

The plot is relatively slight and is supported by the year-in-the-life structure but the narrative strands are well-handled and intertwine well as a whole, although I wasn't that convinced by the ending.
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on 3 July 2009
A wonderful novel quite literally packed full of sex, drugs and rock n roll! Very tough to put down and an incredible belly laugh from the first page to the last. Full of twists and turns, most of them unexpected. I sincerely hope there is plenty more to come from this author, one of the finest for a long time...
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on 22 May 2008
Dark, satricial, been-through-the-mill portrayal of a predatory A&R bloke of the lowest stripe. I'm sure it was as cathartic for Niven to write as it was, in some ways, for those of us with even the most fleeting interaction with late 90s major label A&R guys, to read. More Irvine Welsh than Martin Amis, for my Money (ie: funnier), and as visceral a take as you'd ever want on the cruelty that comes with the territory in a business which one of the A&R men namechecked in the book once told me was "in the business of crushing people's dreams". What a dirty little pleasure - I DO hope that Niven is planning a sequel...
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