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Friday, 4 July 2008
Attack of the Unsinkable Rubber Ducks
by Christopher Brookmyre
If you took all the profanity out of a Brookmyre novel it would be half the size and read like a telegram. His prose is not for the faint of heart or the weak of character; they are all full of lyrical passages that make you feel the characters can see you and that they know you. It is for this reason that Rubber Ducks is Brookmyre’s stand out work to date. While it doesn’t have the wing walking thrill of Be My Enemy or the character subtleties of Sacred Art of Stealing, it is a master class in narrative structure: the reader sees what s/he is supposed to while being shown everything.
It will come as no surprise, then, to find out it is about the world of magic, psychics and spiritualism. You will be forgiven for assuming that the book is pro-woo after reading the first person narrative of the first character but this is only the first of many things you will be wrong about (and I’m not just talking about the plot). We hear Jack ‘toddler in a supermarket’ Parlabane’s voice first hand (along with many other’s, in more than one sense of the word) and it is no less vibrant or visceral than usual.
Rubber Ducks will keep you guessing what’s on the next page while you wonder about what was on the last page so you will miss the hidden piece of the jigsaw on the page you’re reading. It’s the most fun you can have without feeling guilty for laughing; and if you do find the only impossible event in the book, you went one better than me.
reviewed by Alison Roughsedge