My review of Christopher Brookmyre’s ‘Places in the Darkness’…

I have been a fan of Christopher Brookmyre for a long time ever since I first picked up a second hand copy of ‘A Big Boy Did It and Ran Away’ all the way to present day and his latest, ‘Places in the Darkness’. I have read and enjoyed every book, hunting around to find a copy of ‘Boiling A Frog’ and then seeking out each that has come since, usually from my public library. He has actually become one of my favourite authors and I look forward to each new release.

Darkness

Most recently I reread ‘Pandaemonium’, a tale where a class of Scottish school kids run into actual demons and carnage ensues. It’s a tremendous read and genuinely graphic as there are significant losses on both sides. But it is also very funny and quite touching, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. His latest is quite a step away from the usual, being as it is science-fiction, and not either a comedy book or a straighter edged detective novel.

“Places in the Darkness’ is set on a station in orbit that is supposed to be the breeding ground for humanity’s first venture out into the stars but of course things are not that simple. I won’t go into the specifics of the plot except to say that it combines Brookmyre’s trademark wit, his experience with writing detective stories featuring a hardboiled detective, in this case Nicki Fixx, and her straight-laced superior, Alice Blake, who fits more easily into the science-fiction part of the narrative.

As should be expected there has been a string of murders in the supposed utopia but ‘Places in the Darkness’ is not really a detective story. Its social commentary, as all good sci-fi is. Those on the station are trapped in a cycle of low-wages which forces everyone to have two jobs, usually one of which pays better than the other. The seedier one, of course, encouraging an underworld where anything can be obtained for the right price which is exactly how those in power like things. The sci-fi elements of the story concern the influence of technology on our lives as well as the control that those who develop said tech have over us, all of which is very ‘Black Mirror’, and I love it.

I thoroughly enjoyed ‘Places in the Darkness’ and it was nice to see an author whose career I have followed doing something different, while bringing along all that he had learned from their career as a comedy writer. It appears that Brookmyre’s next novel will now return to the seedy world of Jack Parlabane, his signature character, and I will be looking forward to that too, but should Brookmyre choose to return to the world of Nicki Fixx and Alice Blake, I will enjoy whatever happens next. I heartily recommend that you give ‘Places in the Darkness’ a go, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Cheers!

 

 

My self-published nove;, ‘Only an atheist can help God save the world’, now has FOURTEEN reader reviews with an average of 4.6 stars and is available from all electronic retailers including Amazon UK here: http://tinyurl.com/pgjd68z. The sequel, ‘Jesus Returns: here he comes again’, is also out now: https://tinyurl.com/yce6bvtg. Check out my other “Rambling” blogs posts for articles on being an indie author, comics, politics, and reviews of books and movies! Lastly, follow me on Twitter @onlyanatheist1. Cheers!

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My review of Everything Everything in concert in Manchester…

Last Friday my wife and I saw Everything Everything in concert at the Apollo theatre in Manchester and they were superb! When we moved back to the UK after living in Canada for a few years, one of the discoveries we made was BBC Radio 6 Music, which is now our station. I love the grumps of Shaun Keaveny in the morning as a contrast to more upbeat breakfast show presenters, I usually have the radio tuned to this station throughout the day, and Craig Charles’ Saturday evening ‘Funk and Soul’ show is superb. If you want somewhere to start, that is where I would suggest and I really hope that you do for it’s an excellent station.

6 Music

Through this station I have discovered many new wonderful acts including Courtney Barnett (who we will be seeing in May), First Aid Kit (who I hope to see later in the year) and Honeyblood (I have no idea when they’ll be on tour, but I hope soon!). I discovered Everything Everything when they released ‘Distant Past’, the excellent lead single from their ‘Get To Heaven’ album and 6 Music gave it significant play.

Get To Heaven

Now, this is certainly not the sort of song I would usually love, being mostly a listener to rock, but I heard it a few times and it really grabbed me. ‘Regret’ and ‘Spring/Sun/Winter/Dread’ came out soon after and I was hooked. Honestly, their music is just so good that I began to look out for it and for their next release. They are put into the indie category but I’m not sure that is what I would call them. I’m actually not sure exactly what category I would put them into, for their music is very funky with lyrics that you wouldn’t get anywhere else. Honestly, Basement Jaxx is another band I would compare them to, though I’ve no idea whether they would agree with that.

When they released the next album, ‘A Fever Dream’, ‘Can’t Stop’ was the lead single and I was immediately hooked. It’s an absolutely perfect little pop song that I was singing for weeks and loving. The album is very good, especially ‘Run the Numbers’, ‘Night of the Long Knives’ and ‘Desire’. Who else but these guys would use the lyric “I’m just a knuckle-dragger with the knuckle-dragger grin’? No-one that I’m aware of.

Fever Dream

So, the gig. The band came out all dressed in blue jackets except the lead singer, Jonathan Higgs, who was sporting an orange one. It made a nice contrast and he really stood out while prancing around the stage and belting out his falsetto voice. And it was one hell of a show! They put on an impressive performance in which I saw what I imagine Queen were like during their prime. Or maybe Muse, not that I’ve seen them live either. The venue was packed, my wife and I were hemmed in with nowhere to go, but I didn’t care. The crowd were bouncing, belting out every word and having a blast, as was I!

 

Many songs stood-out, especially ‘Desire’, ‘Can’t Stop’ and ‘Cough Cough’. And in the gig, I saw an act on the precipice of becoming huge, a band who doubtless delight at festivals and who I see now moving into the phase of their career when they can fill stadia across the country. I really hope that’s what happens, they deserve it.

The gig ended with ‘Distant Past’, my in to the them, followed by the haunting ‘No Reptiles’, which features the lyric ‘like a fat child in a pushchair’ and as we left the venue and headed back to the station, this was what I was singing while all around us fans were yelling out whichever song had stuck with them. I’ve rarely seen a crowd so obviously engaged and I will looking forward to their next album and awaiting the next chance I get to see them live. Bravo!

 

‘Only an atheist can help God save the world’ now has FOURTEEN reader reviews with an average of 4.6 stars and is available from all electronic retailers including Amazon UK here: http://tinyurl.com/pgjd68z. The sequel, ‘Jesus Returns: here he comes again’, is also out now: https://tinyurl.com/yce6bvtg. Check out my other “Rambling” blogs posts for articles on being an indie author, comics, politics, and reviews of books and movies! Lastly, follow me on Twitter @onlyanatheist1. Cheers!

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