You hear these rumours, and they can panic a person. "Christopher Brookmyre has gone straight with his latest book." I was twitchy. How could he (either to his readers or to himself)? Surely the man cannot possibly have lost his acute sense of the bizarre, his sly, dry and clever sense of humour. Could he? Of course not. Daft idea. WHERE THE BODIES ARE BURIED might be a police procedural, crime fiction based book, but it's classic Chris(topher) Brookmyre from the start to the end. How could it not be! Glasgow Policing 101 - as explained to one of the main characters Detective Catherine McLeod, when a rookie cop:
'This is Glesca.'... 'Any time you're confused, take a wee minute to remind yourself of that inescapable fact: this is Glesca. We don't do subtle, we don't do nuanced, we don't do conspiracy. We do pish-heid bampot bludgeoning his girlfriend to death in a fit of paranoid rage induced by forty-eight hours straight on the batter. We do coked-up neds jumping on a guy's heid outside a nightclub because he looked at them funny. We do drug-dealing gangster rockets shooting other drug-dealing gangster rockets as comeback for something almost identical a fortnight ago. We do bam-on-bam. We do tit-for-tat, score-settling, feuds, jealousy, petty revenge. We do straightforward. We do obvious. We do cannaemisswhodunit. When you hear hoofbeats on Sauchiehall Street, it's gaunny be a horse, no' a zebra...'.
Phew. Brookmyre without a rant ... well ... I'd have to double check that the earth's rotation was still in alignment.
But is this good crime fiction? Yes. In a nutshell. It's very good crime fiction. It's a nice, complicated, and very believable plot. It's full of the sorts of cunning and stupidity that you expect from the cops and crooks. There's dedication, there's a bit of the past coming forward to screw with the present, the interlacing of worlds over many generations. There's also more than enough twists and turns, and even a couple of lovely poignant moments. There's some hugely funny moments, there's some poignant ones as well. One of Brookmyre's talents has always been to create very believable, human characters. McLeod is a marvellous combination of a dedicated, clever senior cop with a home life and all the doubts and insecurities that lots of people with rotten jobs have about hanging onto everything they hold dear. Another main character - Jasmine Sharp, niece of a missing ex-cop, private detective - recently bereaved when her mother and sole parent died, Jasmine's a bit of a mess, to put it mildly. She's not the world's greatest trainee private detective, but she gets points for being a very dedicated workmate and friend to her boss. Two excellent female characters, different from each other, but the same in many ways, Brookmyre's also created a supporting cast who work with these two extremely well. Okay there's one scenario that's a bit hard to swallow at the start of the book - but the end of the book explains it all - and besides that, it wasn't until I was well into the action that the lightbulb went off and this reader suddenly went... what the?
That's the other thing that works in WHERE THE BODIES ARE BURIED, as it does in any Brookmyre book. The pace is fantastic. The action rolls on, the people do their thing, the tension rises, the reader loses sleep.
There's nothing worse than a panic over where one of your favourite authors is going. Dismiss it from your minds. Chris / Christopher / Mr Brookmyre, whatever he and his publishers want to call him knows how to write books. Very good books. WHERE THE BODIES ARE BURIED is one of them.