“All Fun and Games Until Somebody Loses an Eye” by Christopher Brookmyre
Sometimes, we go looking for books and they find us.
I was in a local charity shop and these two books by Christopher Brookmyre perched on a top shelf just winked at me. You know, I took one out, looked at the cover and the blurb, put it back and made to walk on, but they smiled at me and sorta winked, so I just decided to give both of them a good home. I’m glad I did.
The first novel by Brookmyre which I have read, “All Fun and Games…” is your fairly standard thriller fare, except it has softened, kinder edges; less gratuitous killing than, say, a Lee Child or even a Grisham. There’s a gently subversive edge that says, “You realise, of course, that I’m teasing.” Not only does this particular novel start with a Jane Bond – a heroine, grandma called Jane Fleming who dreams of having an exciting life – but it makes obvious allusions to the Bond Movies and – spoiler alert – indicates in the final few pages that the whole thing was a set-up. Subversive, funny and humane, “All Fun and Games…” is a quietly enjoyable polemic against fighting, war, the arms industry and the dangers of un-regulated capitalism. Which could sound dull, but is anything but. Witty, inventive, and memorable, I’m really glad I was prompted to delve into this book.
I’m also delighted that for once, our author makes a heroine of a woman, and one in her mid-forties. Her husband hardly features, her son is largely a vector for some clever techie sleight of hand but Jane Fleming seems to have it all – fitness, courage, looks, stamina and enough intelligence for a dozen others. Perhaps one reason why this book is so enjoyable to me – as it must be to thousands of housewives – is that it gives homebodies an out for all the inevitable stuff that people of a certain age have to endure: housework, routine, shopping, babysitting, fetching and driving. If Jane can have adventures, so can we all, though perhaps not quite on this scale. In any event, I find the hope of adventure for all of us most heartening, and if you are wanting or needing a shot of courage, optimism or hope, I recommend this read.
I can’t wait to start reading Brookmyre’s next novel, and I’m glad to know there are many more waiting to be read.
Thanks for listening.