Christopher Brookmyre

Christopher Brookmyre - Where the Bodies are Buried

Monday 6th June 2011, 6.00pm The Mitchell Library, Auditorium, £8/£6

Best-selling author Christopher Brookmyre launches his latest novel Where the Bodies are Buried:

Detective Catherine McLeod was always taught that in Glasgow, they don’t do whodunit. They do score-settling. They do vendettas. They do petty revenge. They do can’t-miss-whodunit. It’s a lesson that has served her well, but Glasgow is also a dangerous place to make assumptions. Either way she looks at it, she recognises that the discovery of a dead drug-dealer in a back alley is merely a portent of further deaths to come. Elsewhere in the city, aspiring actress Jasmine Sharp is reluctantly - and incompetently - earning a crust working for her uncle Jim’s private investigation business. When Jim goes missing, Jasmine has to take on the investigator mantle for real, and her only lead points to Glen Fallan, a gangland enforcer and professional assassin whose reputation is rendered only slightly less terrifying by having been dead for twenty years. Cautiously tracing an accomplished killer’s footsteps, Jasmine stumbles into a web of corruption and decades-hidden secrets that could tear apart an entire police force - if she can stay alive long enough to tell the tale.

The Just One Word May Book Photo Challenge: Day 12: Sunshine

Featuring the abso-bloody-lutely glorious Quite Ugly One Morning by the criminally under-appreciated Christopher Brookmyre.

(In regards to my loose interpretation of the prompt, it’s often sunny in the morning. So, this book. Good, yeah?)

Also, this has been cross-posted to my Instagram. By me. For fun. (I am, apparently, allowed to have fun).

The Sacred Art of Stealing - Christopher Brookmyre

The Sacred Art of Stealing

This book came out in 2002 and I have loved it completely from that moment onwards. Angelique De Xavia, fresh from foiling a terrorist plot in a fashion Nic Cage would be jealous of, has survivor’s guilt, PTSD and is also turning thirty while single. 

In walks, or rather, in dances, Zal Clemiston, bank robber extraordinaire. Features such wonderful pieces of dialogue as:

Jarry shook his head. “Friendly advice.”

“I wish you’d been there to offer that advice when I made the mistake of getting out of bed this morning." 

There followed a pause, brief but long enough for both of them to uncomfortably contemplate the involuntary indiscretion of Angelique’s last remark.

"There are a thousand ways you don’t want to reply to that, Officer de Xavia, so let me pay you the compliment of saying, simply and sincerely, that I wish the same thing." 

It’s a great look at the cop/thief dynamic and the kiss-you-kill-you romance. 

But what really made me suddenly review this is that The Sacred Art of Stealing is one of those books I always turn to when I’m feeling down I read through it last night. I’ve always been amused at the starting heist, and when I first saw The Dark Knight, I saw the resemblance, not just in the clowns robbing the banks, but the thieves behaving reliably enough for the puppet master to manipulate them, the piling on of Batman Gambits and the ‘fuck you’ to the organised crime world.

Tonight I noticed another little line. "But if you’ll forgive me, I feel I’m obliged to infect you with the little virus he dropped into my head.”

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I am now convinced Christopher Nolan is a Christopher Brookmyre fan. And this makes me squee with girlish glee.

Edited to add:

And the final chapter is called “Watch You Burn”. My case, she is rested. 

Simon Darcourt, terroriste de son état, doté d'une intelligence machiavélique, voit ses plans contrecarrés par deux gamins qui n'ont pas froid aux yeux, une femme flic spécialiste des arts martiaux et un prof, Raymond Ash, adolescent attardé, fan de jeux vidéo, qui assume mal sa paternité toute récente. » Métro Un avion explose en plein vol, tous les passagers périssent, y compris Simon Darcourt, terroriste redoutable.On ne retrouvera jamais son corps car il avait subrepticement quitté l'appareil avant le décollage. Virtuellement mort, celui qui se fait appeler « l'Esprit des Ténèbres » se croit libre, jusqu'à ce qu'il croise Raymond Ash, camarade de lycée qui le reconnaît. Il faut à tout prix éliminer ce témoin gênant. C'est sans compter sans la pugnacité de Ash, qui se lance alors dans une enquête passionnante et terrifiante, aux côtés d'une jeune et intrépide inspectrice de couleur, l'irrésistible Angélique de Xavia, qui tient la dragée haute à ces messieurs des R.G. et d'Interpol. Fin observateur des bouleversements du temps, Christopher Brookmyre nous livre une nouvelle fois, pour notre plus grand plaisir de lecture, un regard original, juste et pertinent sur la violence du monde qui nous entoure

‘Normally with terrorist groups, there’s so much factionalism and internal politicking that members eventually start turning dissident and selling out their former comrades. Again, this hasn’t applied to the Black Spirit. For one thing, there are no ideological tensions because there’s no ideology to argue about. Bout our anecdotal evidence suggests that there are two stronger reasons for the loyalty he has enjoyed. One is that his collaborators are handsomely remunerated. The other is that he has a long memory and nobody in their right mind wants to get on the wrong side of this bastard.’
No, of course not. All the fanatics, psychopaths and assassins around the globe, they all skip a beat at the mention of his name. He eats guns and shits bullets. He bathes in the blood and dines on body parts. Oh God, keep talkin’ baby, keep talkin’, ooh yeah baby. He’s the baddest of the bad. He’s a killing machine. Ooh you say it so good, you say it so nasty, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooooooh…
Fuck off.
Lexington had probably told Wells to ham it up in order to light a fire under everybody, but there had been no need for such priming. If the Black Spirit had walked in the door right then, the MI5 creep would have dropped to his knees and swallowed every inch.
He’s a whole new species. He’s audacious. He’s resourceful. He’s ingenious. He’s cool. He’s bad. He’s scary. He’s got a two-foot cock.
Aye, very good.
He’s a wanker, that’s what he is.
—  Angelique de Xavia, from A Big Boy Did It And Ran Away - Christopher Brookmyre
’“We’re going to fuck you up the arse,” said the government, all the time. In his adolescence the collective response was: “Come ahead and try it, ya bass. See what you get.” These days they would just drop their trousers then drop some eckies so that their acquiescent complicity was a fun trippy experience.’
- christopher Brookmyre, Country Of The Blind
The Sacred Art of Stealing - Christopher Brookmyre

Basically, before I begin, I should probably admit to my unbridled adoration of Brookmyre and everything he creates. He’s a pretty spectacular human being and an even better writer, and pretty much the only author I’ve ever met that I’ve gone all ‘fangirl’ on. 

We’ve been to the pub a couple of times, and every time I speak to him I’m astounded by his mind and how it works. He is exceptionally intelligent, to the point that no matter how much I think I know, I’m always two steps behind. 

ANYWAY.

The Sacred Art of Stealing is in my top three Brookmyre’s. It centres around recurring heroine Angelique De Xavia; black Glaswegian cop and kick-ass extraordinaire. She is embroiled in a case when an armed, masked gang walk into a bank in broad daylight, and proceed to crack the safe. I’m telling you - if Brookmyre decides to pack in the writing and turn to devising heists of his own, we’re in serious trouble. Angelique is drafted into the building and comes face to face with the literary love of my life, Zal Innez, a beautiful American showman who’s plots are the work of genius.

Enter the requisite love story between good girl and bad guy, lots of guns, a Mexican drug baron and a couple of magic tricks and you’ve got top-form Brookmyre through and through.

A glorious, glorious book, and the love scenes aren’t even too cringey. Well, not as bad as All Fun And Games Until Someone Loses an Eye, anyway. Fresh linen - need I say more?

Where the Bodies are Buried - Chris Brookmyre

Where the Bodies are Buried

A new Chris Brookmyre, you say! It’s actually been out for a while, you say! Shut up, I say, I only realised a few weeks ago.

So before I got sucked into the maelstrom that is Mass Effect 3, I found myself tearing through this Brookmyre book. It felt like an early De Xavia novel, if Angelique hadn’t been a hero from the get-go. In a lot of ways, ‘Where the Bodies are Buried’ was Brookmyre’s take on a 'Rebus’ novel. The action set-pieces are understated and few and far between. There’s even a bitter, broken young Edinburgh DC who had a problem with authority. 

The female characters in 'Where the Bodies are Buried’ are great, following all the best and broken police officer tropes and remaining clearly women. I could start going on about strength in the face of strife, etc., but what do you really expect from Brookmyre? I love the way he writes his women, as characters, not unachievable goals for his men.

The central mystery of 'Where the Bodies are Buried’ is a little more down-to-earth than most of Brookmyre’s books. It’s a simplistic mystery, worthy, as I said, of a Rebus novel. I’d happily read more of the characters here, but I’m not sure if they will.

The lack of call-backs to the previous novels (unless Jim Sharp is who I suspect he is, I’d have to check 'Sacred Art of Stealing’) was a little odd, but I liked the new characters, I liked the story, and I liked the way Glasgow still had its character, a little fantastical in this otherwise gritty story. 

Good for: Brookmyre fans, crime fans, mystery fans, Rebus fans, Glasgow fans.

Bad for: Someone who was eagerly hoping for a sci-fi novel from Brookmyre next, or those who prefer Edinburgh …

Jack,” she said quietly, “are you sure about this? This government thing, I mean. It’s just that, well, I’d have thought if the government wanted someone out of the picture, they’d have just done it an no-one would ever hear about it. You know, that it would be less… I don’t know, complicated.”
“Are you kidding?” he said with a quiet whisper of a laugh. “Just because it’s a total farce and they’ve left smoking guns laying everywhere, you think it wasn’t the government? Come on, they’ve made a complete arse of absolutely everything else they’ve turned their hands to. The health service, education, transport – what makes you think assassination would be any different? In fact I’m feeling a bit stupid myself that, with all the mess, fuck-ups and general incompetence, I didn’t recognize it as their MO earlier.
—  Christopher Brookmyre, Country of the Blind
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Broadoak Studios producer, Harvey Summers has been busy working with game developers RedBedlam, creating all the sounds for their upcoming game “Bedlam” based on the novel of the same name by author Christopher Brookmyre. Its pretty fun coming up with original sound effects, and even recording the foley gets interesting.


Here’s James from Broadoak Studios re-creating the sounds of walking through grass and tall brush, all serious business this!

Pandaemonium - Christopher Brookmyre

Pandaemonium

Well this is completely different from his other novels. I was given a sneak preview at the Aye Write festival in 2008 and it didn’t prepare me for just HOW different this book is to his others. It is downright sci fi, which I like, but may well throw others off. In saying that, my mother, who hates sci fi seemed to enjoy it more than I did.

The rambling, character PoV shifting style that I associate with Brookmyre is more pronounced than ever. Not necessarily a good thing. The book comes with a cast list and just for fun I think you should pencil through the deaths as you go. As well as the one character who I’m convinced has teleporting powers of being in multiple places at the same time (seriously, keep an eye on that Beansy).

The ending seemed to dangle sequel bait and now I’m worried he’ll never return to my beloved Glasgow mischief makers.

While it may seem as though I don’t have a high opinion of the book, I must hasten to add that it still gets four stars on my scale (and there are very few five star books). It’s enjoyable and features a brilliant scene about atheists in fox holes that will be added to my collection of quotes, much as Angelique’s exposition on terrorists is well worth remembering. The characters, especially the school students, are fleshed out and cleverly puppetteered.

However, I think that Gillian’s theory is correct, and even that makes me realise what so threw me about this book. It’s just different from his others. Don’t let it put you off, I’m actually really glad to see a different direction being taken. Not that Brookmyre was ever in any danger of growing stale, but maybe we’ll get some real hard sci fi from him next. Now that would be fooking awesome. 

Good for: Experimental Brookmyre fans, geeks, physicists. 

Bad for: Someone wanting a crime thriller