Thursday, December 28, 2006

Bizarre goings-on in Edinburgh

I was really irritated, when Margaret Atkinson's 'One Good Turn - A Jolly Murder Mystery' began in gangster speak. I had known her as quite a good author, and now this? But the book was set in Edinburgh and so I persisted. Turned out that every character has his or her own language, and the gangster speaks only at the beginning and end of the book. Bit surprising though, that an English character with a Scottish father, on his first ever trip to Scotland, is familiar with the term 'a poke of chips'.

It's a riveting read, and very funny, too. Lots of initially disparate, and disjoined, occasionally also dysfunctional, characters pop up without apparent connection to each other, and, like in all good crime novels, eventually end up connected to each other. This even leads to a Christie-an scene where all characters (bar one who is a mute participant, in a coma in hospital, but who is behind all the shenanigans) are assembled in one place - though here the resemblance to an orderly Christie-an assembly ends. There are many bizarre incidents, where, for example, someone stumbles across a corpse on a beach, the tide comes up and he almost drowns while trying to rescue the corpse; or where a rottweiler, leaping at someone's throat, takes a heart attack in mid flight.

The story is set in the Edinburgh of the festival, which the author seems to know well, including the ups and downs of fringe performers and performances. A play which never quite gets it together is one of the threads running through the book. Most of the characters live in the posh bits or very posh bits of the town (unlike Rebus' Edinburgh characters who mostly live in murky housing estates) - it's nice to read about familiar haunts! (Not that I ever lived in posh bits of Edinburgh...).

I don't normally like detective novels but this is a great read!