The Sacred Art of Stealing, by Christopher Brookmyre

A gang of crooks hold up a bank, and our heroine Angelique, fresh from having foiled a terrorist plot by "The Black Spirit", is called in from her day off to help sort things out. She manages to get into the bank but is herself taken hostage. But it's no ordinary bank robbery: the perpetrators are unfailingly polite and paint, perform plays and do acrobatics to keep the hostages entertained. Angelique is impressed, despite herself, especially when the robbers get away with the money. And then she gets a call from the leader, who wants to take her out for a drink...

A reasonably interesting story, and there's always something satisfying about clever good-guy crooks carrying off outragous crimes. What spoilt it was that there was too much rambling philosophising going on that wasn't relevant to the plot. For example when Angelique is on her day off, she goes to a football match, and there was at least 20 minutes of her (or the author's) thoughts on the social issues relating to football fan-dom. I'm not against that per se: it was fine when Nick Hornby did it in Fever Pitch, but unlike that book, the observations here weren't very interesting or memorable. There was also quite a lot of back-story which turned out not to be that relevant either: again this wouldn't be too bad if it was interesting, but a lot of it wasn't (e.g. the stuff about the pressure group trying to ban what they regarded as a pornographic art exhibition).

The book was mostly read by a woman, but had a "forward" (which was actually about forty-five minutes long) read by a man. I don't really know why they did it this way, and I sort of expected that to become apparent, but it didn't. It didn't so much spoil it as feel unneccessary.

The other thing that was quite noticeable was the bad language, which was a bit over the top.

OK, and I might read more by this author if I come across another of his books, but I'm not rushing out and ordering all of his other stuff.

Re-read in 2014 - the printed book this time, not the audiobook. This was the first Brookmyre book I read, but in the meantime I've read all the rest, and so the style wasn't so much of a surprise. On top of that, I knew a bit more about the characters in this book who appear in other novels.

A difference with the printed version is that I think I skimmed some of the passages that I'd found a bit wordy in the audiobook. But the audiobook does have the advantage of a reader with an authentic accent.

Enjoyed it, and it made me want to re-read more of the Brookmyre books. Looks like it was 2011 that I read most of them, so a four year gap is probably OK - I've put in an order for the next book about Angelique and Zal

Came up as a cheap deal on Kindle so bought it and read it again in 2019. Very enjoyable read. I'd forgotten exactly what happened at the end but knew something was coming and was surprised at how much of the book was dealing with the first bank heist etc. and relatively little on the endgame. Looking forward to reading Snowball in Hell again, although that's not cheap on kindle, so may just get it from the library.

Completed : 21-Feb-2005 (audiobook)

Completed : 31-Dec-2014

Completed : 12-Jan-2019

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