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4.5 out of 5 stars
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4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 5 March 2006
“Country of the Blind” is the first novel of Christopher Brookmyre’s that I have read and I can say with a great degree of certainty that after thoroughly enjoying this pacey and exciting thriller that I will be coming back for more.
The book features the exploits of maverick journalist Jack Parlabane and apparently this likeable figure first appeared in one of Brookmyre’s earlier books “Quite Ugly one Morning” however for those like myself who haven’t (yet) read this earlier book this later book is perfectly enjoyable in its own right.
Set against the mounting dissatisfaction at the ineffective and over self-indulgent Tory government of John Major all hell breaks loose when Dutch media mogul Roland Voss is found murdered in a rambling country house in Scotland. Next to Voss’s body is that of his murdered wife and their two slain bodyguards lay outside their room. Almost immediately four likely lads are arrested for the crime including former burglar Thomas McInnes, his son Paul and a very strange guy who likes to be known as Spammy. The one sensible thing Thomas has done is lodged a letter with a lawyer before the crime has taken place. When this lawyer, Nicole Carrow, turns up at the Police station demanding to see her client the last thing she probably expected would be to have an attempt made on her life within hours.
As I say the book has a fantastic and intriguing storyline with lots of plots and sub-plots but for all this it never gets bogged down in detail or gets too clever for its own good. The writing is exciting and keeps the action bowling along at a cracking pace. The only fault I can pick with it is that Brookmyre does at points “write in Scottish” and I’d much rather imagine these accents than try to figure out what the characters are actually saying.
The characters are great fun and the writing is extremely humorous at times. There’s also a goodly portion of political commentary along the way which probably won’t agree with all readers but certainly for those of a left of centre persuasion it will be both poignant and amusing.
I can only really really recommend this book and I will definitely be trying one of his other books very soon.
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on 3 October 2012
If bands have "difficult second albums", the I suppose this is Mr Brookmyres difficult second book - and it`s pretty good. Very much a slow start compared with the debut "Quite Ugly One Morning", so a bit of patience is required to navigate the opening chapter. In the second chapter Parlabane realises his relationship with Sarah is changing the way he looks at his job and his eagerness to dive into dangerous situations. But sure enough, ultimately he can`t resist the pull of a big story (nor can he ignore injustice), and so the fun begins.

The baddies in this story are the tabloids and the right wing politicians. Predictable targets perhaps, but very well written as always and you can`t help but root for the good guys. The story telling is assured, smart, witty and accelerates so you are well and truly sucked in.

I would suggest people read Mr Brookmyres books in order - there are characters who appear in several stories, so in a way each novel is a chapter in the overall.

Thoroughly recommended.
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on 27 June 2016
I've read a few of Chris Brookmyre's books, and thoroughly enjoyed them, and was looking forward to this one. But I've given up at the start of chapter 3, which is 17% of the way through the book. Which tells you just how 'fast-paced' this is. It isn't. As other reviewers have mentioned it gets off to a slow start. Very slow. There are flashes of classic Brookmyre: the scene in the lawyer's office with Mrs McGrotty is delicious.The pages and pages of backstory about the same lawyer's boyfriend who she went out with during her rebelling against dad phase...what can I say? I skipped and I skipped. I also skipped an awful lot of the pages and pages where Parlabane mentally waffles over his change in attitude since hitching up with Sarah. Ok, it probably reflects the difficulty of his decisions, the life changes he's mulling, but Brookmyre says the same thing three or four different ways. Skip a paragraph or two and, oh god he hasn't moved on yet... Yes, we get it. Sarah has changed his life.
The plot may prove to be brilliant. I'm afraid I will never find out. As others have said...not his best book.
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I think this is the best Jack Parlabane novel I’ve read so far. He writes with other main characters, but this one is probably the one guaranteeing the best political, social and richly ironic plot. Parlabane is a reporter – a very successful one – but when he finds out about the death of a rich newspaper owner and his wife, supposedly killed by the members of a small group of men whose background suggests they must be the killers Parlabane digs deeper and his suspicions are confirmed.

A young female solicitor has her car tampered with, and Jack Parlabane prevents a her death. It takes a while for the rich subtext of several strands of activity to become clear, but this novel is something special. It is full of energy and has it’s heart in the right place. Each of the characters are very believable and well-developed and their stories give them gravity and attention.

When the ending comes it is entirely satisfactory. It’s breathtakingly sad, razor sharp and very exciting. A marvellous thriller. Brookmyre is a writer who grips you, holds you, and you don’t want to let go.
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on 10 September 2007
I discovered Chris Brookmyre when I accidentally picked up a copy of "A big boy did it and ran away" prior to going on holiday. The first thirty pages were quite labour intensive however the reward for completing them is astounding. More original than Carl Hiaasen, Brookmyre is unrivalled in terms of satire. His stories are entertaining, at times painfully funny and filled with characters that lack the sort of sacharrin niceness but have humour and valiant vulnerability in equal measure.
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on 14 November 2001
If you know what a McGuffin is, and who played New York cop John McClane and where, you'll probably enjoy Christopher Brookmyre. This is his slightly stodgy second published thriller, and you'll forgive and enjoy it more if you realise that it's also an action movie sequel. It's a re-tread of his debut "Quite Ugly One Morning", with basically the same characters and situation - right wing businessmen and government ministers arrange a violent murder and cover-up, eventually raising the wrath of improbable superhero crusading journalist Jack Parlabane.
Like any action movie sequel this is bigger and longer than the original, and fills in for the fresh simplicity of the first with an excess of situations and explanations. It's completely event-driven and doesn't really pause to draw characters, relying on generally likeable heroes and boo-hiss villains. It starts slowly and doesn't build a head of steam until over half way, with long stretches of exposition where characters just explain plot and motivation to each other. This includes some pointed comments on the right wing government of 1980s England, which aren't entirely original but will reassure the likely leftish, middle-class audience that they have a liberal-minded fellow-traveller who is also quite cross about what went on. Sadly, as comedian Alexei Sayle memorably pointed out, you can't change the world with the lyrics of a pop song. (You have to do the dance as well.) I enjoyed this, especially the last third where the action kicks in, and while I was disappointed I can accept the "Hollywood" ending because in a strange way it is honest to the source material.
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on 28 January 2002
After Quite Ugly One Moring I couldn't wait to get my teeth into the next in line from Brookmyre. Like some others who have reviewed this I too felt the start slow as the characters were introduced and the scene set but there is enough of the CB humour I love to keep me going until the familiar Brookmyre sky rocket of plot and laughs grips halfway through taking the climax to neighbour waking laughter once again. The scene in the woods with the football kick had me crying with laughter. Get it. Get them all. You will not grieve your lost sleep.
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on 20 March 2016
First Impression of the Book: I really enjoyed the first book in this series Quite Ugly One Morning and this was a great addition to this series! Christopher Brookmyre is amazing at creating almost incomprehensible plots and playing them out between a cast of varied and interesting characters. I also love that he writes his dialogue in a Scottish accent when required and that adds a new dimension to the book overall.

Summary Of The Book (Spoilers :D!!!):

The story begins with a murder, a VIP and his wife are killed along with their bodyguards at Craigurquhart House and they have four suspects that were found on the scene covered in the victims blood. The suspects they found were known thieves who it seemed went out of their way to kill the couple and their staff so it is deemed they are part of a greater terrorism plot.

Enter Nicole Carrow, a lawyer who wakes up one morning to find her new client who she met just last week is one of the accused in this high profile case that has bought the MI5 to their door. Nicole's client Thomas McInnes came to her prior to this murder with an envelope that she was asked to keep in her possession and only to reveal its contents if he doesn't return to collect it.

Nicole opens the envelope when she finds out here client is in trouble and uses the information to try and remove the terrorism charges that her client is facing so she can talk to him and find out what actually happened. Meanwhile the chief security advisor for Craigurquhart House commits suicide whilst he at the police station after being asking to come in for questioning. Before he dies he is caught by journalists at the front door to the station where he makes a nervous and mystic speech that is meant to send a message to one person.

That person is Jack Parlabane.

Jack is an investigative journalist who is the main character of this series of books. Jack is getting married to his fiancée Sarah who we met in the first book, they went through an ordeal and as a result Sarah has asked Jack to hang up his tool belt and keep on the straight and narrow. Though Jack is happy to oblige, when he finds out that his nemesis has been killed and his long time friend has committed 'Suicide' he has to get involved and find out who is pulling the strings behind this elaborate scheme.

The story is split between several story arcs that all follow important characters and unravel various parts of the bigger picture which involve government politicians, MI5 agents and pornography. Other than Jack and Nicole, the other main event follows the four 'terrorists' who are being set up to take the fall for the original murder. They are kept from their lawyers and when they are moved between prisons they are mysterious busted out of their jail bus and are set free in the Scottish wilderness. They are followed closely by unseen forces and when one of them is killed they are forced to strike back against their attackers.

CB is an artist when it comes to character creation, I really enjoyed all the characters in this story. Jack Parlabane is persistent, infuriating and a true master of his profession. Sarah is the voice of reason and a great counter balance to Jack. Tam, Paul and Spammy are the real highlight of this story, properly fleshed out, funny, meaningful and their characters and struggles are very rooted in realistic happenings in that era of time.

Christopher Brookmyre always writes complex and well structured stories and the fact that he sets a lot of his books in Scotland adds an extra layer to the story that gives the reader insight into a different country and their culture, how they speak, how they treat others and treat their own.

Go and check out this series of books (there are six of them!). If your looking for action and high stakes stories then also check out CB's Jasmine Sharp trilogy, a fantastic and addictive series about a female private eye investigating the death of her only family member left.

7/10

If you enjoyed this review then please head over to my blog alwaystrustinbooks.blogspot.co.uk or add me on twitter if your here @ALwTrustInBooks for updates, news and other bookishness :@D
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on 26 January 2004
Having been introduced to Brookmyre about six months ago, I have become an addict and ploughed my way through most of his back catalogue. This book, in my opinion, is one of his best with a great plot including murder, double crossing and shady politicians, all mixed up with the author's great sense of humour. Once this book gets into full flow, there is no going back and I found myself reading it wherever I could, unfortunately the amazing character that is Spammy making me laugh out loud whilst on the tube, earning me a few funny looks!! A great read that has fuelled my addiction even more!
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on 15 July 1999
This book had me hooked from the first page. Brookmyre's description of the young lawyer's first clients had me in hysterics from chapter one. (Speaking as a lawyer myself - it is completely accurate although its not so funny having to endure Mrs McGrotty in the flesh on a daily basisI can tell you!) Having gotten off to such a great start I thought it could not get any better but the story was excellent and the characters all very credible and interesting! The style of writing is very 90s Scotland and I just loved this book! I have just ordered all Brookmyres other novels.
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