Country of the Blind, Chris Brookmyre
“But Parlabane, tears welling in his eyes as knelt trembling on the carpet, knew exactly what they meant.
They meant black was white, white was black, something was very, very wrong- and only he could prove it.”
When I started my summer favourites series of reviews I knew it wouldn’t be too long before I picked up a Chris Brookmyre novel, the question always going to be, which one? After the release of his debut novel, Quite Ugly One Morning, Brookmyre wrote three equally excellent novels, Country of the Blind, One Fine Day in the Middle of the Night and Not the End of the World. At various times each one has been my favourite and by the end of the summer I may just review all three, for today at least Country of the Blind is my favourite. It’s also the second novel to feature Chris Brookmyre’s most prolific character, investigative journalist Jack Parlabane, of which there are eight novels and one short story.
The synopsis of Country of the Blind is in itself fairly simple. Four men are arrested for the brutal murder of a media tycoon, his wife and two bodyguards. The tabloid media are soon baying for their blood and calling for the re-introduction of the death penalty. Enter Jack Parlabane, who soon realises that all is not as it seems; and he must prove the men’s innocence whilst the body count continues to rise. Along the way there are hilariously funny patches of Scottish dialect, corrupt Tory politicians, plenty of music references, copious amounts of swearing and violence and a wonderful cast of supporting characters, some of whom re-appear in future Brookmyre novels.
Before finishing I should mention something about the opening chapter. In comparison to the blasphemous swearing which opened Quite Ugly One Morning, Country of the Blind opens more gently with “a nice cup of tea”, but don’t let that fool you, it isn’t long before Mrs McGrotty sweeps through the door and, for anyone who’s tempted to listen to an Audiobook of Country of the Blind, I highly recommend that you don’t listen to the first chapter in the car or at the very least not when the car is moving. It’s very difficult to drive and howl with laughter at the same time, you have been warned.
The murder of a media moghul in his country mansion appears to be the result of him disturbing a gang of would-be thieves. The robbers are swiftly caught, but when they are unexpectedly moved to a different prison they escape. Back in Edinburgh, a young solicitor reveals to the press that one of the subjects had left a letter with her some time before the break-in which proves his innocence. Jack Parlabane, journo-extraordinaire, is intrigued, but when he approaches the lawyer he discovers someone else is trying to get near her - someone with evil intent, political connections of the highest order and a corrupt agenda.