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on 14 June 2003
Well, no frankly. I read the book as someone who worked with the author at Heathrow and whilst I enjoyed recognising 'aspects' of certain former colleagues, I'm not convinced the plot itself is that strong. The tail revolves around a disenchanted and depressed immigration officer, based on Saint, who inadvertantly gets caught up in the smuggling of Chinese crooks into the UK. The whole sub-plot of the Chinese murderer going about his business seems bolted on rather than an integral part of the action. It could almost be dropped and the book repackaged as a short story. The portrayal of the service is bleak with absolutely none of the characters seemingly having any redeeming features! Shades of Irvine Welsh. There are a few immigration service 'legends' in there such as using the photocopier as a lie detector and making sure the number on your stamp didn't come out - all based in truth but not really reflective of the service as it is today. I would be interested to read a review by someone with no knowledge of the immigration service - I enjoyed it mainly because it was a satirical swipe at that which is familiar to me. Not sure how well it will do with the mainstream reader. Will probably sell well with immigration officers checking to see that they aren't in there.
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on 12 September 2004
Who'd have thought a story based around an Immigration Officer could be so well done, and even funny.
Refusal Shoes, well have you smiling all the way through, be it at the characters, the situations they get in, or the ways in which they do there job. Who knew an Immigration Officers job could be so interesting.
Tony Saint writes with obvious inside knowledge, which makes you think that characters like these could actually exist...scary thought!
I read this book in two days flat after not being able to put it down, and hopefully you'll enjoy it just as much.
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on 5 January 2004
I was really looking forward to this book; I thought an indepth look at the immigration service, by a former employee, was a great idea and a fascinating subject. It is both of those things, but a wafer thin thriller is not the way to do it. Perhaps a memoir would have been better. The plot is not cohesive or gripping, and whilst the surrounding detail is fascinating, there isn't nearly enough of it- there is far too much fannying about in back rooms and not enough frontline experiences. When the author gets stuck in- like the marriage interview, for example, we get a glimpse of what this book could have been. Unfortunately, all you're truly left with is how much the author really really hated the people he used to work with, which simply isn't very interesting unless you're one of the people involved.
There's a great book to be written about this issue, but sadly this isn't it.
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on 17 July 2003
At a time when all first time authors are referred to as “the new ....” Tony Saint’s debut is incomparable to anything that has gone before. In “Refusal Shoes” Saint introduces us to the world of terminal C, the airline gateway to the UK. This is a world of madness and chaos with thoroughly deplorable characters throughout, and that’s just those that work there! Amongst this sea of madness swims the hero Henry, a man out of place who it appears is also to be going out of his mind. Through the eyes of Henry you see the vindictiveness of fellow officers and the desperate lengths that those seeking asylum will go to. The plot twists around corruption and the illegal entry of undesirables are handled deftly, right up to the thoroughly satisfying denouement!
This is darkly comic novel, with wry observations on the world of immigration and the sort of characters it attracts. You can make an argument that some very important statements are being made, about humanity about the things we would least like to admit about ourselves, but when it comes down to it, this is just funny, a great debut from a promising talent. A must for all discerning readers. FIVE STARS!
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on 30 July 2003
*****
For those who sleep easy at night feeling that the country's borders are being carefully watched, Tony Saint's hilarious first novel, "Refusal Shoes" should tweak your confidence for the folks minding the doors. It will at least change the way you look at the person stamping your passport. The hero of this tale, Henry, has tumbled down the rabbit hole of the British Immigration service into a workplace from hell - a five year veteran now in a job he loathes. And, though Henry desires nothing more than to get through each day as unobtrusively as possible, he has an uncanny knack for blundering into the very middle of things. At the onset, a colleague in the department has committed suicide. The death is suspicious and evidence is found linking it to organized crime. Someone else in the office is allowing dangerous criminals to enter the country. We watch Henry fall like a sleepwalker onto the coffee table of the whole sordid business. And, as he races against time to uncover the truth (and to cover his own behind), he makes an enemy of almost everyone who can do him harm. The action is well-paced and rushes towards a side-splitting conclusion.
There's a real talent at work here, in the way Mr. Saint has painted the world of Heathrow's front lines. It's claustrophic, and bewildering, and scathingly funny. Henry, bravely shouldering the weight of the asinine bureaucracy that threatens to crush him, becomes a coporate worker's everyman - for every poor fool who trudges each day to voluntarily lock himself in a room full of stunted egos. Henry's deeper misfortune, however, is that he is forced to link arms with this self-same team of certifiables and play red-rover with the whole travelling, lying, insane world.
Read this book! It's an amazing time.
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on 21 August 2014
I have just finished reading "Refusal Shoes" in the space of 3 days (bought from the British Heart Foundation). While looking on Amazon for Tony Saint's next book I came across the other reviews, some of which I think are unnecessarily harsh. It's not a bad first novel and, like others, I found it hard to put down. Good humour, believable characters, a good holiday read (especially if travelling by air!) I'm looking forward to "Blag" which has a single glowing review.
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on 28 December 2008
Not a bad book. Perhaps not as enjoyable a read for me because as an employee of a Government Department, I could see too many parallels to my own work life - although hopefully not as dysfunctional as those featured in the book. Some sharp observations about the state of Britain in the early 21st Century and attitudes towards immigration.
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on 8 August 2003
I read this book in a day and a half on holiday and became completely engrossed in the underworld of airports and customs officers. Excellent book with a gripping storylne and plenty of unexpected twists and turns to keep you guessing - highly recommended!!
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on 2 December 2009
The book is like a novel, but a nice one, very tempting history about immigration rules, behavious and more ...
Buy it, and you will see how immigration officers are and used to behave with us immigrants ... Sometimes lovelly, but sometimes not.
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on 6 February 2016
This is a book about the staff of the immigration service.
I first read it years ago. The plot a bit far fetched but its well worth the read if you are sick of the Nanny State and want a good dose of Political Incorrectness.
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