Motherless Brooklyn, by Jonathan Lethem

Lionel is a teenager with Tourette's syndrome, and has grown up in an orphan's home. He and three of his friends start doing odd jobs for Frank Minna, who runs a removals business. Then Frank disappears for a couple of years, and when he comes back, he recruits the boys again, this time to help with his new business: ostensibly a limousine service, he is actually running some kind of detective agency. One day when they're out on a job, they're following Frank when he is abducted and murdered. Lionel and his friends set out to find the killers.

Well I had high hopes of this one; I think it won a prize and the idea was interesting (not having come across a book with a hero who suffers from Tourette's). But it just didn't grab me. I think this was partly because he kept going on about his condition. Fair enough that the reported speech includes verbal tics, but he always seems to need to justify this to the reader. E.g. I asked "What's happened to Frank? EAT ME BAILEY", my Tourette's forcing its way into my mouth. Lionel is also an obsessive, verging on Asperger's, which he himself seems to ascribe to the Tourette's, and some of the things that he finds himself forced to do (tap people six times on the shoulder) have the potential to be funny, but again every time they happen he goes on about his syndrome.

And the story just wasn't that gripping. I did want it to be, but I realised about halfway through the book that I just wasn't enjoying it, and was switching to the radio every so often instead to see what music was on. So I gave it up as a bad job.

Gave up : 13-Jan-2006 (audiobook)

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