I have to preface my review by saying I don't often read thrillers or private eye novels as I usually find them not terribly well written and a bit cliched. I also don't often read books that promise to make me laugh out loud as that's a big claim, and one that almost always lets me down. I tried this book as it's a debut novel by an author from the same city that I live in, and thank god for that geographical coincidence because it led me to one hell of an enjoyable read.
First and foremost, this IS a funny book. It did indeed make me laugh out loud on several occasions. The fact that Mark Porter used to be a stand-up comedian probably helps as the humour comes from the sort of observational material that some comics base their careers on. A lot of it revolves around the narrator's dog, but not in a sentimental dog-loving kind of way, more in an exasperated stepping-in-things, inappropriate-contact-with-parts-of-the-dog's-anatomy kind of way. But don't think for a second that the book is all about gags because there's a real intelligence to the way Mark Porter deals with relationships, especially the one between Horatio and his wife. There are sections in it that are incredibly well observed and insightful, and yet handled in a way that doesn't disrupt the overall comic tone. That did impress me a lot.
Ultimately, this book is something a bit different from the usual British crime novel. There are no hard drinking, divorced detectives, and neither are there any fast talking, womanising private eyes. The main character is an Englishman living in Washington with his American wife, crippled by a lack of drive and ambition and resorting to private investigation as a way to somehow, finally, make some money and contribute to the household finances. He takes on a string of seedy infidelity jobs and struggles to get his clients to pay, getting beaten up by men in slippers and derided by random strangers for photographing pensioners along the way. When his best friend gets shot the detective work starts to take a back seat, but then kind of re-emerges while he's dealing with those more personal issues.
I'd stop short of saying the book was flawless, but hey, what book is? As a debut novel this has to be up there with some of the best. And the characters were so engaging that I hope, in the tradition of the genre, they're resurrected for a sequel or two or a full blown series. Great book.
I truly enjoyed this fab read, the characters are interesting and the story takes you on a fun journey, love the writers style and the humour laced throughout this delightful romp. I downloaded this out of curiosity after happening across the authors site in the web and, after reading a few pages, decided to get his second book Moscow Drive. The arc of the tale is very pleasing and the journey is very entertaining, this book is not overly taxing and makes for a tremendously fun read, I can only hope that this is the beginning of Horatio and Lamberts adventures in print. I do not usually read the genre but found myself intrigued and can honestly say that I did, I thoroughly enjoyed this wonderful debut and only hope Mr. Porter is encouraged to sit at his desk again and share more of his stories with us - an excellent read!.
While Harry Goodman (the main character) starts out trying to define himself work-wise, what he ends up doing is finding himself through the family and friends that love him. Through a series of twists and turns that has him seeing a psychologist, working with the same psychologist to hunt down the author of a threatening letter, caring for a hurt friend, then that friend's family, and finally solving the central mystery of the book, we learn along with Harry the lessons that life can teach us. The reader is rewarded in this heart-warming tale that provides a lot of laughs along the way.
This is a light book that is entertaining and worth reading. Nothing taxing or thought provoking, just honest story telling that allows you to hitch a ride with Harry through a few days of his life. A few laughs, a cringe here and there and you're left with a feeling you want to track down more of Mark Porter's (The author) work.
i found this story absolutely hilarious. I read it while i was on holiday but was desperate to finish it. Harry is a typical english bloke and with and american wife and several american friends gets into a bit of a do with the lodger being shot and their friend turning them into kind of vigilante's. They solve the crime of who shot the lodger and alls well that ends well but it really made me laugh.
Horatio "Harry" has a problem - a few problems, really. His marriage might be in jeopardy. His best friend crashed at his pad for two weeks and stayed for two years. Counseling is fruitless, his therapist more unhinged than he is. He can't move forward with anything in his life because in every scenario, all he sees is absurdity. Everything lacks meaning for him. Prostitutes offering services makes it all sound "like work."
And Harry doesn't want to work.
Trying his hand as a private investigator, specializing in cases of adultery, he can barely get himself to bother charging his clients - hoping instead to find that their spouses aren't even cheating. His investigative talents, and better judgment, are put to the test, though, after an attempted murder on one of his friends launches Harry on an adventure that forces him to solve more than just a crime.
Dressed up in bawdy, even scatological, gross-out, humor, Dogs Chase Cars has wit - real wit - to spare. Almost every paragraph builds up to its own punch line, and delivers a blow every time, even a few knock-outs. Porter rarely misses a jab, handing out wry observations like they were kittens, cleverly setting the stage for Harry's emotional transformation to re-engaging with his life, friends and family.
Mystery, humor, sex - it's all there, but what elevates Dogs Chase Cars in the end is heart. Porter's characters walk, talk and act like real people - he nails the dialogue, the interaction, the attractions, the challenges and the conflicts with subtlety and nuance, and has us laughing and rooting for Harry and his misfit circle of friends as they track down a would-be killer, and learn to take care of each other along the way.
With strains reminiscent of John Barth's The End of the Road, or Jason Schwartzman's character in HBO's Bored to Death, Porter's debut novel is a fun read - a humorous and compelling mystery with a heartfelt ending that draws a path from finding absurdity to finding meaning in our lives through the people we know and care abo
Not a heavy crime novel or thriller, but is however, an extremely funny detective story that draws upon different aspects of the "hero's" relationships, friendships and daily life. A compelling story-line that allows you to completely relate to the main character and the stories of the people that surround him. Would recommend to anyone.
My other half bought this book for me and so I began it without any particular expectation but was soon knocked off my feet. A pacey read with twists & turns, sex, laughter and tears. The storyline pulls you in immediately with an eclectic mix of utterly believable characters who soon become as familiar and comfortable as your oldest friends. The dialogue punches you right between the eyes, in the gut and round the back of the head - it is laugh out loud in an embarrass yourself on the bus kind of way - wonderful!