I struggled with the beginning of this book but in the end I found it involving, with an interesting take on the behaviour of the tabloid press and some good things to say about life's priorities and relationships.
The book is a fictionalised version of Dominic Utton's blog in which he wrote to the CEO of First Great Western with the idea of annoying him in proportion to the annoyance caused by the late running of Utton's train each day. It's a good, amusing idea for a blog but runs the risk in novel form of annoying the reader, too, if it's too flip for too long. For the first 50 pages or more I did find the style repetitive and gratingly, relentlessly ironic, so the humour wore thin very quickly. For example, "Do you remember when Princess Diana died? Of course you do. Tall, blonde lass, liked a holiday, married that odd feller with the big ears, unfortunate business with bulimia, three of us in this marriage, Queen of Hearts, landmines, Paris underpass, all that stuff. That's the one!" is OK as a one-off, perhaps, but I really did wonder whether I could manage to wade through 300-odd pages of this sort of thing, and I went in for a bit of judicious skimming.
However, things began to pick up considerably around page 100 because interesting things began to happen and it started to become genuinely insightful. The narrator, Dan, is a journalist on the showbiz desk of a thinly disguised News Of The World (well, hardly disguised at all, really), and we get his take on things coming apart there as the hacking scandal unfolds against a background of fictionalised versions of real events. He makes some interesting and penetrating points about the way in which disgraceful press behaviour is seized upon by unscrupulously sleazy people to cover up genuine wrongdoing and hypocrisy, as well as about the attitudes within the newspaper, the sense of priorities in the world and in his own, troubled marriage. I came to care about him and be interested in what he had to say and in what became of him, and the style became far less intrusive and more appropriate somehow.
So, overall I did enjoy this book and am glad I persevered. You may, like me, struggle at the start but once the book shows where it is going it develops real purpose, insight and some genuine wit, too. I can recommend it.