Thursday, 11 February 2016


4.5 out of 5 stars

On Amazon UK HERE
On Goodreads HERE 

I can't believe this is only 99p!  It's a bumper blockbuster of a book, a slightly tongue-in-cheek crime/gangster thriller that races from Los Angeles to Chicago, to London and back again.  It reminded me in some ways of a Jackie Collins, and certainly of the weighty and multi-faceted popular fiction heavyweights of the 1980s.

Buddy Chinn is a lazy, alcoholic, not very successful writer, passionately in love with the wayward Monique.  His trial starts when he meets dastardly rare manuscript collector Mortimer Saxon, who sets him a task ~ to uncover a lost series of correspondence between Buddy's father Henry (a much more successful writer) and a famous chess champion.  The prize will be $100,000.  Failure to complete the task will mean almost certain death. 

This is the fifth Mark Barry I've read, and it follows some of the traits of his other books: the sensitive loser with a hundred negative personality traits who you somehow can't help loving, who's hopelessly addicted to a woman who, the reader suspects, is less keen.  The difference with this book is that we get to see Monique's point of view too - and very surprising it is!  All the characters in this page turner are sharply drawn with humour and intricate detail, as always, and the plot is unpredictable and so well thought out.  One of the main triumphs, for me, is that an English writer living in England has successfully written about Americans living in the US; only now and again did I feel the dialogue/narrative was a little self-conscious, and that's only because I'm a bit picky!

It's really a book to settle in and snuggle down with, as I've enjoyed doing over the last few days.  Mark Barry is a terrifically talented writer, and I'd recommend anything written by him.

ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE CITY OF CRIMINALS by Mark Barry is reviewed HERE, with links to reviews for THE NIGHT PORTER, CARLA, and ULTRA VIOLENCE.

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