'Marvellously paced and ingeniously plotted. A real page-turner' Observer
One winter morning, Lorimer Black - young, good-looking, but with a somewhat troubled expression - goes to keep a perfectly routine business appointment and finds a hanged man. A bad start to the day, by anyone's standards, and an ominous portent.
For Lorimer works in the only-slightly corrupt business of financial adjusting, and he is about to learn that it is much uglier - and even more crooked - than he ever imagined. Suddenly, he's being unfairly blamed for all kinds of irregularities. Next, his life is threatened. And, lastly, he's coming to realise that the life he has led till now - the one someone wants to rub out - is one big fat lie . . .
'A joy to read: easy to get into, addictively plotted and beautifully written' Daily Mail
'A novel that is truly comic, and, like all true comedy, also disturbing' Scotsman
'A pleasure to read' Independent on Sunday
The ever inventive Boyd--whose highly praised first novel, A Good Man in Africa, was followed by others set in Africa and America, sets this latest work in contemporary London, which he observes with the close attention of someone seeing it for the first time. In fact, his protagonist, Lorimer Black, is not exactly a native: his ancestry derives from an obscure Central European Gypsy clan who made it to London after the war. Lorimer is the only truly Anglicized one among them, from his name to his careful sense of what to wear and say on every occasion. He is a loss adjuster at a big insurance company, whose day begins unsettlingly with the suicide of an insured client he was about to visit. Then a new hotel building, mysteriously overinsured, burns down, and his boss, the overbearing and cheerfully philosophical Mr. Hogg, seems to want Lorimer to investigate. A dreadful new colleague comes into his life and tries to make Lorimer his best friend; Lorimer falls hard for a mysterious actress glimpsed in one of his company's TV commercials; his car is vandalized, and he is attacked in the street; his elderly father dies suddenly; and Hogg turns nasty and fires him. Throughout all this, poor Lorimer, stricken with a severe sleep disorder, tries to get some rest at a sleep clinic where he seeks what he calls "lucid dreams," which--unlike his waking life--he can control. Boyd's comic writing is zesty and brilliantly on-target about contemporary Londoners, high and low, and Lorimer's adventures have enough of an alarming edge to keep a reader constantly, and delightedly, off balance. The only flaw in an otherwise sparkling performance is an odd and unlikely journal Lorimer keeps, which is designed to fill the gaps in his previous life, but which never sounds like anything other than the author's voice. Editor, Vicky Wilson; agent: Georges Borchardt.
An interesting set of characters interwoven through the life of the main protagonist who works for an insurance company as a loss adjustor. From his boss, Hogg, a larger than life mentor and bully to the love of his life spotted in a taxi one day. His odd family who seem to be worlds apart from Milo drift in and out of the plot. Milo is a mix of well organised planner, with strong opinions about music, but also showing weakness as others take advantage of him. Somehow this book clicked with me, and I liked it's pace and mix of characters, it's sub-plots and storyline. Amusing and interesting with a serious side as well. Enjoy!
Wonderful stuff - a beautifully-written book about a decent man who retains his decency, even when everything in life conspires against him. Boyd writes with real warmth and humour, telling the story in a lively engaging manner.