THE BIG O - Declan Burke

Review Written By
Karen Chisholm

Any book that promises the possibility that love will ruin everything has to get a boost in the To Be Read stakes.   Karen and Ray are classic loners - disconnected from "the norm" for more reasons than just that she's an armed robber and he's a kidnapper for hire.  They are of a "certain age", they've both got a back story that says there are reasons for why they keep themselves a bit to themselves, they are looking for love in some very odd places.  Karen's busy making sure that if that love should show up, she's got something else she could be doing that night.  Ray's a bit more open to the attraction that he feels for Karen, but whilst he's trying to get out of the kidnapper for hire business, he's got a final job that's going to ... well .... complicate things.  

Whilst there is a co-incidental meeting of these two characters in the first place, there's a thread that actually pulls them very close together without them realising it at first.  Karen's "boss" an inept Plastic Surgeon named Frank, who really is a loser has been talked into having his ex-wife kidnapped for the insurance payout by his lawyer; he's plagued by his current lover; bled dry by his twin daughters; mugged by Karen's ex-boyfriend Rossi and that's just where it starts to get complicated.  

Unsurprisingly from the sound of the plot, the style of THE BIG O is slightly tongue in cheek, very rapid fire, slightly wisecracking, slightly brittle and surprisingly vulnerable in some places.  There's a lot of crossing and double crossing of everybody going on; there's a lot of charging around as you'd expect from a caper style novel - and there's Anna.

The story is told as a series of days, broken down into short chapters, each one of these alternating the viewpoint around the main characters and the book clips along at a tremendous pace because of that - and the dialogue which is snappy, stylistic and sometimes laugh out loud funny, sometimes snicker inducing; and sometimes a bit tear jerking.

My interest in THE BIG O was peaked a while ago when there was a general murmur on 4MA (4_Mystery_Addicts) that was starting to lodge the book name deep the recesses of what little short term memory I have left these days.  Luckily it's possible to buy the book via author Declan Burke's blog ( is external)) (which by the way I can highly recommend) so needs must and the paypal account got a run and the book duly arrived.  It's one of my favourite styles of escapist reading - the slightly lunatic caper, albeit this time with a twist in the guts at the end.  


Year of Publication

Karen can't go on pulling stick-ups forever, but her ex-boyfriend Rossi gets out of prison any day now and she needs the money to keep Anna out of his hands.

This new guy she's met, Ray, just might be able to help her out, but he wants out of the kidnap game now the Slavs are bunkering in.  Can Karen and Ray trust each other enough to carry off one last caper?  Or will love, as always, ruin everything?

Review THE BIG O - Declan Burke
Karen Chisholm
Monday, November 26, 2007

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