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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Brookmyre is own enemy as KillBill meets Monarch of the Glen, 3 Feb. 2004
This review is from: Be My Enemy (Paperback)
"Be my enemy" or to give it it's proper title, in keeping with the modern parlance parahphrases that characterise Brookmyre's novel's, "F*@! this for a game of soldiers", was a dissapointment. A dissapointment that I read in one sitting from cover to cover, while the clock brought the next day inevitably closer and the sleep seperating what was quickly threatening to become a 48 hour day ever shorter. So how can a novel that holds the attention be anything less than spine tingling and invogorating?
In short maybe it's just my personal tastes, I recently read that Brookmyre disliked the supposedly central character Jack Parlabane and had so previously punished him by sending him to jail and having someone else sleep with his wife, I think he punishes him more here by keeping him on the periphery of this novel. While essentially we have learned the extent of Parlabane's past through previous novels of Brookmyre's (of which I must add I own the complete back catalogue - in some way quantifying my views on this effort), I for one felt this was missing here. Despite the exhaustion of the topic previously I felt it's absence meant that the sardonic and rapier wit elements of Parlabane's character were omitted and so a main stay character was essentially a bit part player. Granted we centered more about Timothy Vale (previously featuring in "One Fine Day..." - I think! Hard core Brookmyre-ites must forgive me if I get this wrong) but this use of an already established character enhanced the interlinking of Brookmyre's books that personally I find incredible - the interjoined world in his head is like his Trumpton, but "Be my enemy" seems like a catalogue of cross references to his previous works rather than anything essentially new.
Perhaps it was because it was outwith my frame of reference and occured in a setting akin to the Glenbogle estate, rather than the more homely settings to me of Glasgow and Edinburgh. Maybe I missed the presence of Sarah Parlabane to complement her husbands sarcasm or perhaps it was the absence of the now obligatory reference to St Mirren, but I think it was probably the lack of information on the bad guys - despite all this I may have been forming my opinions when I would have been better sleeping - perhaps after all it is only Jack Bauer that can function on so little sleep.
Brookmyre faced criticsm over his previous novel "The Sacred Art of Stealing" for writing essentially a love story and deviating from his mainstay's of violence and gore - was he mellowing with the birth of his child? He also faced criticism over the length of his previous offering in comparison to it's predeccesors. While here we see the return to blood and gore - making Kill Bill look like a 12-certificate, the ending feels rushed as the novel concludes in the last 50 pages of 390. More time might have been given over to this rather than feeling like he was being pushed into meeting a publication date.
His recent article also highlighted how he writes faster as he nears the end of a novel and becomes more deeply immersed in it -perhaps he should try and take his time as he nears the end next time.
3*'s means I didn't enjoy it as much as other Brookmyre novels on first reading, but as with all others I will return to it - and as has been the case with some others I may pull more from it at the second reading. I do though urge you to read it to form your own opinion.
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Location: Edinburgh, Fairmilehead United Kingdom

Top Reviewer Ranking: 9,978,989