Monday, 2 June 2014

The Sparrow Conundrum by Bill Kirton

Reviewed by Jan Needle

I thought I'd reviewed this book last year, until somebody asked me what sex Mary was and I didn't know. It's a pretty basic question as you'll agree, so I thought I'd better do my homework. I flipped through the 300 odd books on my Kindle, found its hidey hole, and started again.

I did then remember how ridiculously funny I had found it. It is an absurd farce about the offshore oil industry based in Aberdeen, and the misplaced seriousness with which high finance operators take themselves.

The only group of people who I imagine have a more unlikely idea of how important they are, are the denizens of the spying world. The utter barminess of that gang of no-hopers is being raked over now thanks to heroes like Snowden and, dare I say it, Julian Assange. Not to mention the poor lad who decided to save the world, then change names from Bradley to Chelsea.

Not that Kirton takes it seriously. His world of bent policeman, bent businessman, and bent ideals takes the whole idea of self-importance and shakes it by the throat. The plot is at once so fast moving and so convoluted, that even Aristotle would become (if I may quote) a bugger for the bottle. If you can't work it out, you might as well get plastered.

There are not many books that make me laugh out loud, unfortunately, but this one did, not once but many times. The only book I can recall which is anything like it was written many years ago by the late great Jack Trevor Story. That one was called The Wind in the Snottygobble Tree, and I still cherish my hardback copy.

It's a bit sad that in this day of the  mighty Kindle, it's only cherishable as infinite electrons zipping about across a piece of virtual paper (or something). But it's in there somewhere, and that's all that matters I suppose.

One day, I imagine, the title will pop out at me from my little grey device once more, and I'll have another few hours of delight.