Top positive review
4 people found this helpful
Madcap, crazy and utterly absorbing
on 23 February 2014
The humour in this book is understated but packs a massive punch that could make a manic depressive break out into giggles. Downtrodden Ray is a Walter-Mitty type character, an unexciting guy who runs a supermarket in a sleepy village. Just as he decides to become a detective people start getting themselves murdered in the village – his new career timing is spot on.
The delight of the book is the absurdity, plus the colourful characters: Ray’s friend Tony, corpulent, usually drunk, spouting such perpetual nonsense that you can’t tell if he’s inebriated or just plain stupid. Ray’s monosyllabic wife Laura, who pays much more attention to munching fruit and watching slushy TV programmes than to her husband. Julia, Ray’s mousey second-in-command at the food store, who is efficient and beautiful, though she’s too modest to acknowledge it.
The humour is the understatement that ignites a mounting tide of delightful absurdity. The most gruesome murders keep happening, but Ray frowns, then has a long pensive break to consider things while drinking his endless cups of tea. The rest of the village also remain unperturbed too in the face of the unknown homicidal maniac, and the murders mount up, while the villagers accept the inevitable and accuse each other at will of being the culprit. Ray may be a twit, but he’s an eminently likeable twit. There’s a wisecracking pub landlord (who’s absorbed much of his customers' stupidity), a profane vicar, and a grouchy old lady customer at Ray’s supermarket, whose perpetual complaints would try the patience of a saint.
Who can blame poor old Ray for wanting to have the life of a glamorous detective, solving crimes and making money? Does he, in fact become a 21st-century Sherlock Homes? Does the murderer get caught? And is Laura really only interested in exotic fruits and films peopled by Colin Frith, or Colin Firth lookalikes?
You’ll have to read the book to find out. I promise you the ending is quite a surprise that I never saw coming.