Mortal Coil, by Anthony McGowan

Matthew Moriarty is a part-time philosophy tutor without much money, so takes up the offer of work as a bouncer at a night club. This leads to a nasty encounter with a gangster which puts him in hospital. When he comes out, Matthew finds that one of his oldest friends has gone missing, and the record company that employed him wants to hire Matthew to find him.

I read Stag Hunt five (!) years ago and for some reason it has always stuck in my mind so I finally got round to checking to see what else McGowan wrote, and this is it. In fact, unless there are two of them, it seems like McGowan has now switched to children's books.

As it happens, this was fairly disppointing. It was a bit of a mish-mash really, as if he couldn't decide exactly what kind of story he was writing. Parts of it reminded me of White City Blue - the style was not altogether dissimilar, and there was a fair amount of nostalgic reminiscence about the antics Matthew got up to with his mates when they were teenagers. But that jarred with the crime and violence aspects of the book. And there was also some sex and spiritual redemption thrown in - for what was a fairly short novel, it just felt like too many themes.

The actual story of what happened to Ju (Matthew's musical friend) was not really that plausible, and I wasn't made to feel that I particularly cared about him. And this meant that Matthew's transformation from OU tutor to knuckle-duster-wielding avenger didn't feel very believable.

Another weakness was that while the book is ostensibly written in the first person, there are several sections where he has to switch to a third-person view in order to explain what has happened (in some cases this is introduced by "I realised later that things must have happened like this.."). It would have been better if he hadn't needed to do this.

So it was a bit disappointing really. Still, I've got another Virgil Flowers book to read next, so that's bound to be good.

Completed : 31-Dec-2009

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