Book Title: Not The End Of The World
Author: Christopher Brookmyre
Publisher: Abacus 1999
Source: The library, my fortress of solitude
Page Count: 388
Genre: Crime, with religion thrown in :)
Summed up in one word: Seismic!
First Impression: Christopher Brookmyre is one of my top favourite authors so I am slightly biased on this book, but it is his first stand alone book that is not part of one of his very awesome series' and it stands out nicely. It is a bold effort full of big events that will have you tearing through it to uncover the truth.
Summary of the Story:
Off the coast of Los Angeles a boat is found, it looks lived in but the crew is missing as though they were swept away in the middle of whatever they were doing. LA cop Larry Freeman is looking into this modern day Mary Celeste and his investigations produce very little evidence of anything fishy...excuse the pun.
Santa Monica is a town split in half, there is the American film makers peddling their various movies on the masses and there is The Festival Of Light, a religious gathering of hardcore Christian's there to protest the sin filled content the AFFM is peddling. Along with the FOL there is the American legion of decency and their leader Reverend Luther St John who is predicting a tidal wave will be coming to wash away all the sinners that plague the town. As 1999 syndrome fills the air so close to the millennium people are primed for thinking the END IS NIGH.
With religious protest under way and Luther St John declaring that 'The Whore of Babylon' and all the other sinners will be taken in the flood, there is apocalypse in everyone's minds. Madeleine A.K.A 'The Whore of Babylon' is a hardcore adult film actress/senator's daughter, she ignores Luther's campaign against her as she is out of the business and laying low. But when an Anonymous person threatens to blow up a boat load of innocent people if she doesn't kill herself on national TV at dawn the next day, she has to make some tough decisions.
Steff Kennedy is just a photographer from the U.K, but can he help save the world and get the girl...?
Christopher Brookmyre picked the perfect time and setting for this story, my favourite part of this book straight off the bat is that each character has his or her own properly fleshed out back story, identity and writing style. CB doesn't just write one way for every character, he uses culture, speech and ideals to fuel each person's battle in this high octane story.
I have a very high opinion of CB and his work, but that doesn't count for much here, this is only his third book and he is still finding his signature style. This means it does not read like a typical Brookmyre piece which I found was a nice treat. Much like Bedlam, it is out of his usual comfort zone. I thought the story was solid, the characters were well put together in the sense that I agree that the life they have lived would produce the very people that they are in this story.
Larry Freeman has popped up previously in CB's first book, and it is great to see him back and fleshed out. He is a fairly standard character, cop with a tragic past but there are still a few unique touches to him that stop the eye-rolling, for example he uses his tragedy for a positivity instead of letting it hold him back. Larry is the glue that holds this story together and he is a very enjoyable character.
Luther St John is the star character in this piece, his story is tragic, humiliating, inspiring (to a minor degree), religious and ultimately evil. You can't help but feel bad for St John and understand why he is as he is. He is a man who overcame trials to become the man we see in this story and CB documents his life fully and the writing builds a great character who takes the story to many different places.
The other characters in this book are great too, I really enjoyed the love story between Steff and Madeleine, it brought the narrative back to the present moment and provided a sometimes much needed distraction in the heavier parts of the plot. Steff is funny, tough and smart. Madeleine is beautiful, wounded and but still has a lot of fight in her. Madeleine's back story deals with some strong themes including self harm and childhood sexual abuse, but its not overwhelming (though it is unacceptably tragic).
The plot was not too unbelievable if you stretch your mind a little, but with the right people and the right means then it could happen. It includes A LOT of religion and quite a bit of oceanography terminology which can bog down the plot slightly but I never found myself wanting to skip parts because I couldn't put up with it. Luther's story brings the other strong themes, religion in it's more extreme boundaries, as well as dedication to the Lord's way.
My main criticism of the piece is that it is not a very smooth read, it can be choppy in places and it can be annoying to have to go back and re-read parts to get a better understanding, this is only in certain places but still. This is me personally though, you may find it a piece of cake and that I am just a bit slower than the norm...
Overall this book captures the era it was set in perfectly, the new millennium brought plenty of chaos to our civilisation and CB paints this picture nicely and cooks up a decent plot and a handful of great characters to really bring it to life again.
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