I love Christopher Brookmyre's books so very, very much. Was delighted to find a new one out in Borders yesterday. As usual, he has a great title: "All Fun and Games Until Somebody Loses an Eye". I'm feeling rather tired and inarticulate tonight, but will try to write out some thoughts about the new book.
He has surpassed himself- you can see his writing maturing and his wisdom and confidence growing with each book. They are all comic thrillers told in pure Glaswegian style- they are genuinely funny (if you have a West of Scotland sensibility) and truly thrilling (if you like your thrillers to be unashamed of their pure fantasy elements, a-la Bond) and very clever indeed, with a good shot of political and social ranting (again, in the Glasgow stylee) and main characters who are ordinary folk, allowing a lot of reader identification and comic set-ups. They also make you feel as though you are reading a child's murder mystery written for grownups. They are not particularly dark or deep (usually) and they always have happy endings.
This new one is slightly less funny, slightly more a serious thriller than some of the others. It is well plotted and very well written. But the truly astonishing thing is the way he has moved on from earlier books where strong, capable, believable women are major characters, to a place where both central characters are just such women and their stories dominate the book. I find his female characters well written; I always identify with them, and I am amazed that a man who is two years younger than me is happy to write such characters at the centre of a traditionally very male genre, with the skill to not lose anything of that genre's thrillingness. Perhaps, though, I shouldn't be so surprised- I am lucky to be part of a particular generation where both boys and girls came of age in the golden era of feminism. Built on the effort of the 60s and 70s, the 80s were a time when it all came to fruition. We had the benefit of contraception but not the worry of AIDS (at least not til the late 80s), with the cynicism and anger of punk preventing any hippie idealism from clouding our vision, during a time of mainstream embedding of feminist ideals. We took feminism for granted. So I guess I shouldn't be surprised when it is men of my generation who do this and not the men of the generation before (baby boomers- bah!) or after. Irvine Welsh is another example of this- he has the same heartfelt desire to do what Christopher Brookmyre does although he pulls it off a tad less skillfully. Still, all power to him for writing an entire novel from within a gang-rapist's mind in a courageous attempt to get to the bottom of that deal- an absolute masterpiece that the boys' club journalists rarely mention. ("Marabou Stork Nightmares" in case you're wondering).
Anyway, back to Brookmyre's latest- hows about a Bond style caper where a 46-year-old Glaswegian grandmother (who was briefly a blue haired punk back in the day til she fell pregnant and disappeared into married motherhood) gets to be the kickass heroine? Supported by a 19-year-old Canadian hacker-grrrrl (are you a reader of Heartless Bitches International, Chris)? And a tomboy US Navy pilot who stole a Harrier jet and got away with it? He plays so much with the gender and religious issues floating around in Scottish culture. And he seems to really get the kind of sexual fantasies that women of true brains and power have. It's just so, so satisfying.
I. Just. Love. Him.
I am so jealous of his brainy consultant wife.