My hospital read! I spent a day and night in hospital for tonsillitis, and managed to read through this book (though there's not a whole lot to do in hospital!).
Originally this book was destined for a 3 star, but the last 5th of the book started to really pull the story together and made for quite a fun and gripping ending.
I selected this book to read because it was Ben Elton, and I'd read a few of his books before and was expecting satirical, witty and possibly funny. I did not expect this book! The characters are certainly witty, but there's no comedy to be found. This is a dark detective story.
The story did feel a little crowded for the first half, it follows the protagonist Edward Newson, a detective inspector and a good one to boot. Newson is extremely well centred with respect to his work, and it makes him a good detective.
In his personal life, he's off centre, but as the reader, I found his judgement quite questionable - and I'm not 100% sure if his character arc leaves him any better at the end.
At the surface of the story, we have a murder mystery. A pretty graphically gruesome murder. Then there's some very strong elements of sex - and very graphic hardcore sex (which, I didn't really realise I was signing up to). Then there's a heavy bullying theme: how if affects an individual decades on, how the bullies continue to live, if they can move past it, whether it's rooted to their soul or not. Then there's unrequited love. Then there's nostalgia and reaching into the past and trying to rekindle feelings of hope and love and happiness.
So…yeah, it felt a little crowded.
Thankfully the last quarter somehow manages to pull a lot of the themes together (and drops a few on the way).
In the end, I enjoyed the story and enjoyed the gripping ending. It did all tie up a little too nicely, but then it's a story, so why shouldn't it?! :)