Blog Tours · Reviews

BLOG TOUR!! There’s Something About Darcy by Gabrielle Malcolm

9781911445562For some, Colin Firth emerging from a lake in that clinging wet shirt is one of the most iconic moments in television. But what is it about the two-hundred-year-old hero that we so ardently admire and love?

Dr Gabrielle Malcolm examines Jane Austen’s influences in creating Darcy’s potent mix of brooding Gothic hero, aristocratic elitist and romantic Regency man of action. She investigates how he paved the way for later characters like Heathcliff, Rochester and even Dracula, and what his impact has been on popular culture over the past two centuries.

For twenty-first century readers the world over have their idea of the ‘perfect’ Darcy in mind when they read the novel, and will defend their choice passionately.

In this insightful and entertaining study, every variety of Darcy jostles for attention: vampire Darcy, digital Darcy, Mormon Darcy and gay Darcy.

Who does it best and how did a clergyman’s daughter from Hampshire create such an enduring character?

Proud, aloof, and emotionally distant. Any modern woman in her right mind would, you think, reject Mr Darcy  – and his ten thousand a year – quicker than Lizzie Bennet turns down Mr Collins. And yet we (and I include myself in this collective ‘we’) seem to adore the man more than ever.

Whether it’s Matthew Macfadyen strolling through a misty field, Colin Firth emerging from a lake, or Bridget Jones’ very own Mark Darcy bringing Regency romance to modern-day London, there really is something about Darcy. And Gabrielle Malcolm is determined to find out what.

There’s Something About Darcy is an extensive examination of the enduring appeal of Austen’s most famous aristocratic hero. Written with a scholar’s eye for detail whilst retaining a light and engaging tone throughout, Dr Malcolm breaks down and analyses the various portrayals of Mr Darcy on screen, as well as the inventive directions that Austenesque writers have taken the character.

From Bollywood hero to vampire slayer (and even vampire!) Darcy has been re-imagined in every possible way and it was fascinating to consider the impact of these portrayals on our perception of the character – and how they might have added to the endurance of his appeal.

I would, however, have liked a little more discussion about the modern adaptations that reinterpret Darcy through the lens of another culture, and more consideration of why we continue to seek out romantic heroes who exhibit such problematic character traits.

In the latter portion of the book, Dr Malcolm also considers the relationship between Darcy and other popular romantic heroes – Mr Rochester, Heathcliff, Edward Cullen, Dracula, Christian Grey – as well as the heroes of some lesser-known (by modern audiences at least) Regency romances written by Austen’s contemporaries.

Whilst I felt that these chapters provided an interesting insight into the way in which various societies and eras construct and interpret ‘heroes’, I wasn’t sure that the discussions always succeeded in shedding new light upon Austen’s hero and this section of the book, for me anyway, wasn’t quite as successful as the chapters that focus primarily on Austen’s hero.

That said, considering other examples of ‘Darcy-like’ characters did illustrate how the prevalence of the Darcy archetype became established in popular culture – and how the numerous adaptations and reinterpretations of the character, both in print and on the screen, have allowed Darcy to take precedence over other romantic leads who exhibit similar traits.

Although literary scholars and die-hard Janeites may find themselves wanting a bit more meat on the bones in some places, for most readers who have a soft spot for Austen’s aloof heroine, There’s Something About Darcy is sure to both entertain and inform in equal measure.

Written with a scholar’s eye for detail whilst retaining the explanations of key plots and characters needed to hold the interest of a general reader, There’s Something About Darcy is a lively, informative and engrossing read.

There’s Something About Darcy by Gabrielle Malcolm is published by Endeavour Media and is available now from all good booksellers and online retailers including Hive, Waterstones, Book Depository, and Amazon

My thanks go to Hannah Groves from Endeavour Media for providing an advanced copy of the book in return for an honest and unbiased review, and for inviting me onto and organising this blog tour. The tour continues until 20 November so do check out the other stops along the way for more reviews and content!

Darcy Blog Tour Schedule

 

Blog Tours · Reviews

BLOG TOUR!! Safe House by Jo Jakeman

Not everyone deserves a second chance…

The morning after a terrible story, a woman turns up in a remote Cornish village. She has bought the crumbling cottage that has lain empty for over a decade, and she’s going to make it her home. She calls herself Charlie, but it’s a name she’s only had for a few days. She keeps herself to herself, reluctant to integrate with the locals.

Because Charlie has a secret.

Charlie was in prison for providing a false alibi for a murderer. But Lee Fisher wasn’t a murderer to her; he was the man she loved. Convinced of his innocence, Charlie said she was with him the night a young woman was killed.

That lie cost her everything. 

And now she has a chance to start again. But someone is watching her, waiting for her, wondering if she has really paid the price for what she did…

I’ve been knee-deep in reading for my PhD recently. Lots of heavy theoretical stuff, a smattering of history, and a small bucket load of obscure eighteenth-century poetry. All very interesting (well, if you’re me anyway…) but not exactly page-turning stuff. So it was with relief that I settled down over the weekend to DEVOUR Jo Jakeman’s Safe House, a pacy and energetic psychological thriller that puts a refreshingly feminist twist on the genre.

Safe House tells the story of Charlie, a woman seeking a fresh start on the Cornish coast. Except Charlie wasn’t always Charlie. Until recently she had a different name and a different life. A life in which she made a terrible mistake – one that might just come back to haunt her.

The narrative of Safe House moves over two timelines. One is set in the present day, in Cornwall, and follows Charlie as she attempts to rebuild her life. The other finds Charlie in prison and flits back to recall the terrible events that led her there. Interspersed throughout the narrative are also short sections told from the perspective of other people close to Charlie  – and those who mean her harm.

Despite these multiple timelines and perspectives however, Jakeman does an excellent job of keeping all her threads together and forming a coherent and compelling narrative. I never felt as if I lost who was who, despite a couple of characters (including Charlie herself) having dual identities and secrets to hide.

Jakeman also manages to keep all the cards of her twist close to her chest until the moment of the big reveal – I genuinely didn’t guess who was behind the sinister attempts to wreck Charlie’s new life or their motive behind it. When it was all revealed, I send a mental congratulations to Jo for both keeping me on my toes and weaving everything together into a plausible yet satisfying conclusion!

And that feminist twist I mentioned? Well, unlike some books in the genre, Charlie is no wallflower – and no stereotype.

Without giving away any spoilers, Safe House confronts the issues of coercive control and psychological domestic violence head-on and the book does an excellent job of shedding light on the challenges that come with investigating such a crime, as well its aftermath on victims and those who surround them. The novel also examines how women who become victims of such a crime – or who are coerced into committing or aiding crime as a result of a relationship – are treated within the media, and how they are perceived by the general public.

What really impressed me though was how Charlie, despite everything that happens to her, retains a determination to survive and to live. Whilst she hugely regrets her own part in the terrible events that led her to move to Cornwall, it is always made clear who the real villain is. Equally, Charlie hasn’t just languished as a result of her experience. She’s learnt new skills, received counselling, gained qualifications. In short, she starts her new life determined not to be defined by the secret she has to hide – even whilst she is afraid that it might come back to haunt her.

It’s a refreshing perspective in a genre that, all too often, depicts female characters as either victims or collaborators without recognising that sometimes it’s possible to be both – and a fully-rounded human being in the process.

Safe House is a gripping, tense, page-turning thriller that is sure to delight fans of Claire Mackintosh or Louise Candlish. As I said at the beginning of this review, I devoured it in a weekend, gripped until the very last page!

Safe House by Jo Jakeman is published by Harvill Secker and is available now from all good booksellers and online retailers including Hive, Waterstones, Book Depository, and Amazon.

My thanks go to Mia Quibell-Smith from Penguin Random House for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and for providing a copy of the book in return for an honest and unbiased review. 

As an extra bonus, the ebook of Safe House is only 99p on Amazon until the end of November 2019!

 

Back from the Backlist · Reviews

Back from the Backlist!! Tamburlaine Must Die by Louise Welsh

Owing to the onset of the PhD, I’ve been taking on fewer blog tours and cutting down on some of my reviewing commitments.

One of the upsides of this has been allowing me more time in my reading schedule to read backlist titles – books that have been on my shelf or on my radar for a while but that the constant need to review and feature newly released titles has led me to neglect. 

So, what better excuse for a new feature on the blog? Thus I bring you Back from the Backlist, an occasional review slot that I will be using to feature some favourite backlist titles. Titles that are in paperback, and are likely to be available from your library or nearest second-hand retailer, but that are just as deserving of your time and readerly attention as the shiniest of new releases!

So, without further ado, let’s get to that backlist!


TamburlaineIt is 1593 and London is a city on edge. Under threat from plague and war, strangers are unwelcome and severed heads grin from spikes on Tower Bridge.

Tamburlaine Must Die is the story of the last days of the playwright Christopher Marlowe, a man who dares to defy both God and state – and discovers that there are worse fates than damnation...

Louise Welsh was one of those authors who was frequently recommended to me but who, for some reason, I’d just never gotten around to reading.

So when I saw a copy of her novella, Tamburlaine Must Die, whilst browsing the second-hand section of a local bookshop, I decided it was high time to rectify that and picked up a copy. And I have to say I am SO glad I did because I think Tamburlaine Must Die might just be one of the best books I’ve read in 2019.

Set over the last few days of Christopher Marlowe’s life, this short sharp punch of a novella follows the doomed playwright as he attempts to find out who has been writing seditious pamphlets in his name, bringing him to the attention of dangerous enemies in an England bought to the edge of chaos by plague, war, and the ever-present danger of civil unrest.

Seamlessly blending known fact and hypothesised fiction, Welsh creates a compelling narrative. Her Marlowe is a fascinating character – furiously angry, forever doubting, endlessly witty, and dangerously brilliant. As a reader, you know that he is doomed from the beginning but his voice is so compelling, and his personality so seductive, that you’re with him no matter how complicit he is in his own destruction. Having read a number of Marlowe’s plays, I could hear his voice in Welsh’s portrayal – that furious genius that first beguiled me when I read Dr Faustus as an undergraduate. It’s a masterful study in the creation of a uniquely powerful voice.

Welsh also excels at her portrayal of the historical moment in Tamburlaine Must Die. Elizabethan England comes alive on the page. Her portrait of Marlowe’s London is a visual, vibrant, visceral delight. Every sight, sound, and smell is made immediate for the reader, from the hawkers plying their wares in the street, to the rotting stench of the heads lined up on Tower Bridge.

For a novella that comes in just shy of 150 pages, Tamburlaine Must Die packs a real punch to the gut. Visceral in its detail, this is not a novel for the faint-hearted. Seedy and saucy by turns, it doesn’t shy away from the violent undercarriage of the world it portrays.

But for those readers who are prepared to be swept up into Welsh’s Elizabethan metropolis, Tamburlaine Must Die offers a tantalising mix of passion and treachery, corruption and mistrust.

Masterfully written, with a taut, tense narrative, and a voice that you won’t soon forget, Tamburlaine Must Die is a must for anyone looking for a riveting slice of historical fiction that will grab you tight and won’t let go until the final turn of the page.

Tamburlaine Must Die by Louise Welsh is published by Canongate and is available from all good bookshops and online retailers, including Hive, Waterstones, Book Depository, and Amazon

Blog Tours · Reviews

BLOG TOUR!! Brando’s Bride by Sarah Broughton

Brando's Bride CoverIn October 1957 Marlon Brando married a young studio actress called Anna Kashfi. He was thirty-three and at the pinnacle of his beautiful fame having recently won an Oscar for ‘On the Waterfront’.

The wedding was front-page news around the world. His new bride was twenty-three, claimed to be an Indian princess and was pregnant.

The day after the wedding a factory worker living in Wales, William O’Callaghan, revealed that Brando’s bride was, in fact, his daughter, Joan O’Callaghan. He said she had been a butcher’s assistant in Cardiff.

Who was telling the truth and who was lying? And, perhaps most importantly, why?

I have, I’ll admit, a slight fascination with the so-called ‘golden age’ of Hollywood. I’m a fan of the podcast, You Must Remember This?, and I find it both endlessly fascinating and achingly sad to discover the complex and often troubled nature of the real lives being led behind the facades the studios and the media so carefully curated.

The life of Anna Kashfi, the ‘forgotten’ first wife of Hollywood star Marlon Brando, is one such troubled life, and her story is given the treatment it deserves in Brando’s Bride, a biography by writer and researcher Sarah Broughton.

According to her studio biography, and the story she would most often relate about her own life, the ‘exotic’ Anna Kashfi was the daughter of Indian parents Devi Kashfi and Selma Ghose. Born and raised in India, she moved to Wales only when her mother met and married an Englishman, William Patrick O’Callaghan, living there briefly before setting off to London, where she came to the attention of a Hollywood producer and landed her first film role in The Mountain (1955), staring alongside Robert Wagner and Spencer Tracy.

According to Patrick O’Callaghan, his daughter was an English woman called Joan and was the daughter of his wife, Phoebe. Neither of them was Indian. In fact, they didn’t have a drop of Indian blood in the family at all. Phoebe’s family were, in fact, French.

So who was telling the truth?

As with most stories, the truth lies somewhere in the middle of these two accounts, a complex tale of Anglo-Indian heritage, personal shame, and Hollywood gloss. Broughton carefully fits together these pieces, picking apart the motivations behind the studios’ portrayal of Kashfi as an ‘exotic’ young actress, and examining why her parents; now assimilated into life in a Cardiff suburb, would distance themselves from their Anglo-Indian heritage – and why their daughter might wish to reclaim it.

It’s a fascinating tale even before Anna’s involvement with Marlon Brando. In fact, I preferred the book when the focus was on Anna. Whilst her tempestuous and short-lived marriage to Brando might be what she is most famous for, it is, in many ways, the least interesting thing about her.

Instead, I enjoyed the parts of Brando’s Bride that focused upon Anna’s acclimatisation into Hollywood, examining the creation and maintenance of identity within the studio system. The intense control that the studio’s maintained over their stars and starlets – and the carefully crafted versions of themselves that they wanted portraying – is really quite frightening, and it’s easy to see why so many young stars became deeply troubled figures in later life. The chapter on Anna’s contemporaries Pier Angeli, Belinda Lee, and Gia Scala, is both fascinating and poignant, as are glimpses into Brando and Anna’s own addictions, and the impact of these upon their son, Christian.

Broughton has clearly spent a great deal of time researching Anna’s life, although her prose wears this research lightly and Brando’s Bride benefits from this investigative, personal style. Whilst the book is largely sympathetic to Anna, Broughton also manages to maintain enough distance from her subject to cast a critical eye on the less salubrious aspects of her life, such as her continuing refusal to speak to, see, or even acknowledge her parents, and the bitterness that followed in the wake of her divorce from Brando.

Told with empathy, warmth, and insight, Brando’s Bride casts light onto one of the hidden histories of Hollywood. Although I had never heard of Anna Kashfi before – and cannot even claim to be a particular fan of Brando and his work – I found this to be a fascinating glimpse into the world that lies behind the glamour.

Brando’s Bride by Sarah Broughton is published by Parthian and is available now from all good bookshops and online retailers including Hive, Waterstones, Book Depository, and Amazon.

My thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy of the book in return for an honest and unbiased review, as well as to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for organising and inviting me onto this blog tour. The tour continues until 20 October 2019 so do check out the other stops for more reviews and content!

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Discussion Time · Random Bookish Things · Reviews

Graphic Novel Recommendations

Graphic NovelsEvery so often I like to take a break from novels and hefty non-fiction tomes and settle down with something a bit different. Short stories aren’t generally my bag but I LOVE a good graphic novel.

Graphic novels provide a completely different reading experience. The best graphic novels, for me anyway, use a combination of text and art to lead the reader through the pages.

They’re a reading experience that is both fast and slow. Quite often, they can be read relatively speedily if you just read through the text start to finish. But often I find I’m drawn to savour them, the lavish art inviting me to return to examine each frame and search for additional details that provide texture to the narrative.

In today’s post, I wanted to share a few of my favourite graphic novels with you. I’m by no means a graphic novel expert – I wasn’t one of those kids who devoured Marvel and DC throughout my childhood- but these titles have all earned a place on my shelves and I’ve re-read the majority of them more than once. Many of them are also standalone titles, making them great for anyone who is new to the genre.

NimonaNimona, Noelle Stevenson

Noelle Stevenson’s Nimona is, technically, a YA graphic novel but don’t let that put you off because it’s a fabulously funny romp featuring an impulsive young shapeshifter with anger management issues, a dastardly supervillain who definitely doesn’t have a heart of gold, and a set of good guys with more than a few dark secrets up their sleeves.

Stephenson’s art is simple and colourful but wonderfully effective, and the narrative combines some laugh out loud humour with a touching story about friendship, love, and finding your place in the world.

Bloodlust&BonnetsBloodlust & Bonnets, Emily McGovern

Emily McGovern’s webcomic My Life as a Background Slytherin has been making me laugh for quite some time now so I was delighted when she released her first full-length graphic novel earlier this year.

In a hilarious pastiche of Romantic literature, Bloodlust & Bonnets sees bored debutante Lucy team up with exuberant poet Lord Byron and dashing ‘definitelystayinginthefriendzone’ bounty hunter Shem in pursuit of notorious vampire Lady Violet Travesty.

Poking fun at the tropes of the gothic novel, vampire literature, and romance, Emily’s clean and simple art style perfectly complements the joyous, action-packed romp. The novel has also been beautifully coloured by Rebekah Rarely.

A Study in EmeraldA Study in Emerald, Neil Gaiman

Sherlock Holmes meets Cthulu. Where do I sign?

I adore Neil Gaiman’s writing and this short story, which follows a famous consulting detective and his partner as they attempt to solve a horrific murder within the murky darkness of Lovecraftian London, has that perfect Gaiman blend of the fantastical and the dangerous.

Brilliantly adapted into a graphic novel format with stunning art by Rafael Alburquerque, script by Rafael Scavone and colours by Dave Stewart, A Study in Emerald is a dark, creepy tale that has a fantastic twist in its tale.

Shoutout also to Gaiman’s gloriously feminist take on the Sleeping Beauty myth, The Sleeper and the Spindle, which is accompanied by stunning black and white art by Chris Riddell.

GiganticBeardThe Gigantic Beard That Was Evil, Stephen Collins

Collins’ wonderfully shaded monochrome art sets off a poignant story of belonging and acceptance in this quirky tale which sees Dave, one of the many residents on the buttoned-down island of Here, suddenly assailed by a terrifying monster: a giant, unstoppable beard.

As Dave gradually begins to embrace his new facial fur, he also starts to relish difference, stepping outside of the familiarities of Here. But what will the other residents do when Dave risks bringing the unknown terrors of There into their safe and closeted world?

Seemingly simple, there is surprising depth in this fantastical tale that has all too many parallels to the world we live in today.

QuietGirlQuiet Girl in a Noisy World: An Introvert’s Story, Debbie Tung

I genuinely think Debbie Tung might have rooted around in my head to write this.

Sweet, funny, and poignant, the comic sequences collected here reveal the many ups and downs of introvert life.

From the emotional drain that accompanies even the best of social events, to the sheer joy that can be found in curling up with a book, a cat, and a cup of tea, Tung’s sharp observations and delicate sketches capture the enchantment and awkwardness of introversion.

Honorable Mentions

The Encyclopedia of Early Earth, Isabel Greenberg: A fascinating alternative history of the world that embraces a number of creation myths and weaves them into a magical story of enlightenment and true love.

Mooncop, Tom Gauld: A short, stark and wonderfully droll tale of everyday life on a lunar colony. Gauld’s brilliantly simple art style is an absolute joy.

Rat QueensKurtis J Wiebe: The first couple of volumes of this series are a raucous delight of booze, death, and sex that follow an all-female team of death-dealers for hire. Sadly the series has, in my opinion, tailed off in terms of quality as it’s developed, but the first couple of volumes are well worth checking out if you don’t mind reading a graphic series that’s most definitely NSFW.

Bitch Planet, Kelly Sue Deconnick & Valentine De Landro: Another NSFW series focusing on kick-ass ladies. Based on the titular Bitch Planet, a prison planet for non-conforming women, this comic unapologetically embraces the feminist agenda in a raw, captivating, and brutal exploration of exploitation and resistance.

So, those were some of my favourite graphic novels! I hope this post will encourage you to pick up a few of my recommended titles – if you do, then please do let me know what you think in the comments.

I’m also open to suggestions for some more graphic novels to read so please do let me know your own favourites.

And, until next time, Happy Reading!

Reviews

REVIEW!! The Mating Habits of Stags by Ray Robinson

Mating Habits CoverMidwinter.

As former farmhand Jake, a widower in his seventies, wanders the beautiful, austere moors of North Yorkshire trying to evade capture, we learn of the events of his past: the wife he loved and lost, their child he knows cannot be his, and the deep-seated need for revenge that manifests itself in a moment of violence.

On the coast, Jake’s friend, Sheila, receives the devastating news. The aftermath of Jake’s actions, and what it brings to the surface, will change her life forever. But how will she react when he turns up at her door?

As beauty and tenderness blend with violence, this story transports us to a different world, subtly exploring love and loss in a language that both bruises and heals.

Loss, grief, wrath, and unswerving, immutable love. It’s fair to say that Ray Robinson’s The Mating Habits of Stags packs a lot of complex emotions into a slender volume.

Coming in at just 222 pages, The Mating Habits of Stags is a majestic and lyrical novel that is both savage and tender in equal measure. Slipping back and forth over time, the novel follows former farmhand Jake, an aged and tough outdoorsman mourning the loss of his beloved wife Edith. He is also on the run from the law after committing a terrible act of violent revenge.

As Jake journey across the countryside, spiraling back into memories of his time with Edith and of the terrible betrayal that has led him to this point, we are taken on a lyrical journey. Lush, gorgeous descriptions of the Yorkshire Fells are contrasted sharply with visceral depictions of natural decay in the same way that Jake’s evocative memories of Edith, and of their son William, are tainted with shades of the slow-burning hatred that led him to his current point.

Jake’s friend Sheila, meanwhile, is contemplating what would have led the gruff  but devoted man she knew to commit such a terrible act of vengeance. As she struggles to untangle her own feelings for Jake, she is confronted by the consequences of her own choices, and by the choices that have led her to where she is now – and the possibilities that Jake’s actions open up for her future.

It is difficult to fully describe The Mating Habits of Stags because it is one of those novels where nothing happens and yet, simultaneously, everything happens. The action of the plot encompasses both just a few days and an entire life, unwinding in slow-moving, lyrical prose that both captivates and enthralls. It’s like the reading equivalent of wading into a river and getting swept downstream until the final page if that makes any sense?

And as for that final page? The closing pages were enough to make me weep, offering both a bittersweet and satisfying conclusion to both Jake and Sheila’s journey. It’s taken me a little while to order my thoughts enough to write up this review because this is a novel that definitely left me thinking – about the choices we make in life, the roads not taken, and the unexpected impact that our lives leave on those around us.

The closest comparison I can think of for The Mating Habits of Stags is Jon McGregor’s Reservoir 13, another gentle stroll of a book that packed a surprising punch and reveled in glorious descriptions of the natural world. Or possibly Robert Macfarland’s The Old Ways with it’s contrast of natural beauty and haunting history. Certainly if you enjoyed either of those I think you’d get a lot from The Mating Habits of Stags, with its rhapsodic blend of the sublime and the savage and its beautiful exploration of the ripples of human existence.

The Mating Habits of Stags by Ray Robinson is published by Lightning Books and is available now from all good booksellers and online retailers, including Hive, Waterstones, Book Depository, and Amazon.

My thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy of the book in return for an honest and unbiased review. 

 

 

Blog Tours · Reviews

BLOG TOUR REVIEW!! Hire Idiots by Prof. I. M. Nemo

HireIdiots-ForWeb Front‘This is a work of fiction.Any resemblance to the living or the dead is purely coincidental and ought to make you ashamed at the comparison.’

PROMINENT PROFESSOR STABBED TO DEATH AT KINGSLEY COLLEGE

Unfortunately, the murder may get lost in the confusion of new vice presidents, marketers, focus groups, assessors and protesters as the administration tries to make education profitable.

There’s no time for mystery! Professor Clarence Van Dyke finds himself bewildered by the changes, but determined to get to the bottom of the killing. He wants his friend to rest in peace – or perhaps he just wants to spend more time with the attractive Detective Riordan. But isn’t he the primary suspect?

I don’t often choose to review ‘funny’ books. Humour is such a selective thing that it can be difficult to covey on the page so I’ve often picked up a novel that is billed as ‘hilarious’ and it’s failed to raise even a smile.

I couldn’t however pass up on the opportunity to read Professor I. M. Nemo’s (yes, it’s a pseudonym) Hire Idiots, a darkly comic novel set in the world of academia. As a PG student, it’s a world I know well and so I figured I’d get the in-jokes – and dark humour tends to be my sort of thing. And I did, indeed, get a good chuckle out of the book on more than one occasion.

Brimming with snark, Hire Idiots takes a sidelong glance at the world of academia, using the murder of a prominent (and, therefore, intensely disliked) academic as an opportunity to take a dig at the commercialisation of education and the ridiculousness of long-held academic traditions. Along the way there’s also some joking at the expense of the murder mystery genre, the study of English Literature, and the many stereotypes associated with university education.

Some of the jokes did, I have to admit, fall a little flat for me. In particular, whilst I appreciate that it is meant to reflect the personality and insecurities of the main character, I didn’t like the fact that nearly every female character is introduced via a description of how physically attractive (or otherwise) they are.

Nor did some of the characters come across as particularly well-rounded – but then this is a novel that is meant to ridicule the one-note nature of some parts of academia and is deliberately using that to create its satire. As I said at the beginning, humour is a very individual thing, so what didn’t land for me may well have others in peels of laughter.

And a lot of the book did make me laugh. To get the most from the jokes, I think some experience of higher education helps – although there’s quite a lot of digs at the general absurdities of workplace culture as well. And Hire Idiots is, for me anyway, definitely at its strongest when it is sending up the absurd nature of corporate ‘Newspeak’ and the sort of  ‘Blue Sky’ thinking that sees thousands spent on marketing whilst no one thinks to put pennies towards actually delivering the services being advertised.

Plus there’s a tidy little murder mystery that is filled with some nice jabs at the tropes of the genre as well.

A quick read that whips along and neatly satirises both the absurdities of academia and current trends in working culture, Hire Idiots is sure to offer a chuckle and raise a wry smile amongst readers looking for an amusing way to pass an evening or two.

Hire Idiots by Professor I. M. Nemo is published by Fox Spirit Books and is available now in paperback and ebook from all good booksellers and online retailers including the Fox Spirit store and Amazon

My thanks go to the publisher for providing an e-copy of the book in return for an honest and unbiased review, as well as to Emma from Damp Pebbles Blog Tours for inviting me to take part in, and organising, this blog tour. The tour continues until 29 September so check out the other stops along the way for more reviews and content!

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