Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT Kill Line By Robert Leigh #DarkHumour #Bookreview @ScreamingMagpie

Today’s team review comes from E. L. Lindley she blogs at http://lindleyreviews.blogspot.co.uk/

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E.L. chose to read and review Kill Line by Robert Leigh

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Kill Line is a dark comedy that offers a perfect snapshot of modern life. Robert Leigh skilfully taps into the simmering rage that, for most of us, never seems too far away and embodies it in his likeable and, on the surface oh so reasonable, protagonist.

 

Due to being made redundant, Shaun is a put upon call centre operative who is forced to endure all of the abuse and boredom that goes along with the job. Despite his efficiency, Sean is often subjected to the rage of the callers who, in the safety of their own home and protected by the distance of the phone line, insult and denigrate him. Whilst visiting one such caller in the hope of getting him to see the error of his ways, Shaun accidentally kills him and thus a side career in murder is born.

 

All of Shaun’s intelligence and energy, which is wasted in the call centre, becomes focussed on planning the murders. Consequently, it’s through his side project that Shaun finds fulfilment and a sense of accomplishment. In fact, Shaun’s particular skill set means that he takes to serial killing like a duck to water. He is precise, well read and thorough in his research. All of the characters that get to know Sean comment on his intelligence and the fact that he’s wasted in a call centre.

 

Despite the fact that he’s a cold blooded killer, Shaun is a very engaging character with whom it’s easy for the reader to identify. Leigh employs the use of first person narrative and his conversational style means we soon feel as if we know Shaun. In fact, in the beginning there are two Shauns, the Shaun who makes the decision to kill and his horrified conscience. Leigh cleverly shows how the disparity between the two lessens as the novel goes on, however, and by the end the two are of the same mind.

 

Shaun is a complex, interesting character who has been forced to live a life not of his choosing. Due to the economic recession, he has few employment options and he lives alone in his childhood home. He is still reeling from the death of his parents and, in his low moments, is haunted by their suffering. He hasn’t changed anything in the house, except to add a large “American fridge”, that is at odds with the rest of the house. The fridge is no doubt a metaphor for Shaun’s desire to escape from the limited world he’s forced to inhabit.

 

What I really like about this book is the way it highlights the shabbiness of modern Britain. Shaun lives in Holtenthorpe which could represent any industrial town or city, defined by the misery of poverty and unemployment once the industry has collapsed. Where once factories might have stood, there are industrial estates with the new versions of factories – call centres. Leigh’s depiction of life inside a call centre is vivid and authentic and anyone who works in a target driven occupation, complete with robot style managers and meaningless business acronyms will identify with Shaun and his co-workers. The grey monotony of life in the call centre is almost unbearable.

 

Leigh’s novel is an indictment of the kind of politics that view people as a commodity. Labour Right is a government funded agency that forces unemployed people into jobs that aren’t worth having. The complete lack of humanity within these companies, that we all know exist in cities the length and breadth of the UK, see characters such as Marie, a fifty something woman made redundant after twenty three years working in a bank, tossed carelessly aside in favour of the more malleable twenty somethings. Anyone who complains about the working conditions find themselves ‘moved on’.

 

Although Leigh’s story is told in a way that is both thought provoking and humorous, make no mistake, it is also brutally violent. As Shaun embarks on his killing spree, all of the emasculation he has been made to feel, finds release in pure, unadulterated rage. Leigh’s talent lies in the way he allows us to identify with Shaun in such a way that we feel nothing for his victims. Shaun has devised a set of rules which he uses to decide whether an abusive caller deserves to die or not and, as we become caught up in his world, his reasoning seems quite fair. However, things change when Shaun kills someone who hasn’t broken the rules. We find ourselves pulling away from him and then when he meets suicidal Hazel Downs, we see him for the psychopath that he actually is. By the end, we have no idea what will become of him as he has passed a point of no return.

 

Kill Line is the perfect combination of playful and deadly serious. It’s probably not a story for anyone easily offended but, if you like a dark, clever and laugh out loud read, then you’ll love it. I know I did!

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Trading Vincent Crow by D.C.J Wardle

Trading Vincent CrowTrading Vincent Crow by D.C.J. Wardle

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Trading Vincent Crow is a book of British dark humour. Don’t let the title put you off. We first meet Vincent Crow employed in a lowly job as kitchen pot-washer in a pub called “The Carrot and Jam Kettle” in the Midlands of England; it’s New Year’s Eve. Vowing not to be stuck in this job forever Vince decides it’s time to aim higher, he’s got a trade-up plan to better himself in life.

Through luck and keeping his eyes open to opportunities, his head on his shoulders and his strict three month trade-up rule Vince finds himself as; a bar-man, a factory worker, a London hotel receptionist, a temporary hotel manager, a London cabbie, a Porsche driving Chauffeur, a Pub manager and ends his year with an offer to run a business in Asia.

I did find the first part of the book a bit slow, it pre-dates the internet boom and the social networking of today, but once Vince got to London, the book picked up and had me chuckling along. The black-market world of the foreign Europeans and their scheming hard-working ways to make money poked fun at the more gullible Westerners. I particularly warmed to Vince’s Nan when he came home and her colourful language, plus there is a delightful episode with a Tiger in Asia.

A quick read and definitely one with a few giggles along the way.

This book was supplied by Publishing Push.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

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Inkker Hauser Part 1: Rum Hijack by Phil Conquest

Inkker Hauser Part 1: Rum HijackInkker Hauser Part 1: Rum Hijack by Phil Conquest

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Inkker Hauser Part 1: Rum Hijack is a short book, just 76 pages, it’s very well written around a tale full of dark humour. The protagonist is an obsessive depressive wannabe author and the tale is the first book in a series. Years ago I tried reading “How To Be Good” by Nick Hornby and this book made me think of some of David’s behaviour from that book.

Living in a flat with nine TV’s, a fish, an emergency potato and a large quantity of alcohol our man tries desperately to climb over the wall of writer’s block and find inspiration to write the next best seller. However when the paper remains blank he plunges into violent alcohol fuelled depression. His quest for the elusive story involves meditation to connect to his dead Grandfather in a room accompanied by flashing orange lights stolen from building sites. The highs and lows, the grasping of wisps of ideas and the procrastinating which goes on really are the dark humour that the book promises.

Not your everyday easy read, this book is for those who’ll understand living on the cusp of reality and the pitfalls it may throw your way.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT David reviews Inkker Hauser Part 1 Rum Hijack by Phil Conquest

Today’s book review comes from team member David, he blogs at http;//barsetshirediaries.wordpress.com  

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David has read and review Inkker Hauser Part 1 Rum Hijack by Phil Conquest

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Review. 

            If you’re really looking for dark humour in your reading I recommend you take a strong torch with you on this journey. The only light that fights it’s way through is very faint indeed.
The hero of this tale gives every indication of being bi-polar. You can read your way through incredible highs when he certainly believes the story of a lifetime is about to gush out from his fingertips as they hover over a typewriter, and the tremendous lows when he finds the paper is blank and his deceased grandfather has failed to channel the masterpiece through him.
 
            There are periods of rage where his property may be broken up with a hammer for not having done as expected albeit they were not designed to do as he wished and moments of tenderness when he talks to his velvet cichlid,a tiger Oscar, Moments of contemplation when he views his collection of dead bird photographs showing various stages of decay and also moments of angst when a girlfriend doesn’t reply to his calls.
 
            Through a haze of alcohol which seems to be glued to his hand he manoeuvres a path through romance and sex and I’m not sure he could differentiate between the two. Relationshiips seem to be a little beyond him even with his family and most certainly with the neighbours who regularly complain about both the timing and volume of his music but who can’t get rid of him as he owns his property outright much to their dismay.Believe me this man is a nightmare you don’t want to know but like an outsider looking in, you really want to know what he’s going to do next.
 
I’d give this book a 4 out of 5 star mark and suggest to Phil Conquest that he confiscate the tool kit before the next book or there’ll be nothing left in the property. A totally different First Book.
Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com