Country Of The Blind: Right in your own backyard

Dutch media mogul Roland Voss is a self-made man, a larger-than-life character who looms large over the lives of the UK population through his monopoly of the media. His principle contribution to the world journalism has been to turn legitimate newspapers into gutter press tabloids, written for the intellectual equivalent brain damaged chimpanzee.

Voss, his wife Helene and their two bodyguards, have been found brutally murdered inside Craigurquhart House. Four men attempting to open the bedroom safe, have been captured fleeing the scene, literally red-handed.

Thomas ‘Tam’ McInnes, his son Paul, Robert Hannah and Cameron ‘Spammy’ Scott have been whisked away from the scene and held under the prevention of terrorism act. The elder McInnes and Hannah have a history of country manor break-ins from the mid-80s.

Nicole Carrow is a young English lawyer, serving her time as a public defender in Scotland. Two weeks prior to the break-in and murder, Thomas McInnes paid her a visit and left an envelope with her for safe keeping. Her initial reason for disbelieving the damning evidence against the four men in custody is based on a gut feeling — well that and the fact that Mr McInnes makes a nice cup of tea.

Jack Parlabane is a freelance investigative journalist, more of the undercover, dressed-in-black, midnight break-and-enter variety than your snap-happy paparazzi. Roland Voss was no longer on Parlabane’s christmas card list, after Voss had planted a large amount of drugs in his apartment and called the drug squad after a disagreement with Parlabane. He has a knack for smelling a cover-up and the opportunity to uncover Voss’ seamy side is a huge bonus.

The plot moves quickly and draws in a huge cast including politicians, their various flunkies (legal and otherwise), hard core newspapermen, doctors and a heap of policemen from every branch of the service.

The story is a classic tale of the little guy suffering at the hands of the overlord, handled with typical Brookmyre in-your-face attitude.

You are constantly reassessing your list of good guys and bad guys through the first half of the book. And as you get further in, you get to see what makes the characters tick and what forces their hand to murder.

Christopher Brookmyre draws some interesting political parallels in this book. I found the media and political feeding frenzy that the murder caused is more frightening than the actual crime. It certainly gave me pause for thought as I watched some of the same empty political gestures and media sensationalism take place in reality as I was reading the book.

I don’t know how easy it will be to find Christopher Brookmyre’s books, as he is a fairly new author. And being a Scottish lad, not yet with the cult following of someone like Irvine Welsh, probably doesn’t help in immediate US distribution. I would hope that any big book store could order his work in, but if that fails try Internet Bookshop or Amazon in the UK.

Published Epinions — 10.07.2000
Published WrittenByMe — 04.03.2001
Book available from Amazon UK

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