Thursday, February 2, 2012

Murder Out Of Tune by Simon Shaw

Not Cassio kill'd! then murder's out of tune,
And sweet revenge grows harsh.
Othello, Act V, Scene II

Rating: 4.5

The hero/villain of this story is Philip Fletcher. He is a 44 yr old actor living in England circa 1988. This is not a "who done it". Philip is the murderer. The only surprises are who he kills, how many people he kills, and in what way he kills. There is a lot of dark humor. The first person he kills is kind of spur of the moment & out of anger. The second killing is premeditated and out of revenge. Of the last two - one is accidental. The last one would be accidental, however the person survives and by then Philip is majorly pissed so it becomes a premeditated killing. Over the course of the book, Philip has a little transformation. It makes me think of all those stories about women having an "awakening". Philip has an awakening as well - just with some new criminal tendencies.

In spite of Philip's arrogance and almost sociopathic tendencies, he has his Macbeth moments - waking up in a sweat, panic attack, & nightmares because of what he's doing. I like one moment in the book - after the 1st killing he is interviewing for a part and he runs into another actor competing for the same role. He kind of has an omg moment:
Now, Tom de Vere had told him that the final selection had been between Dick and himself, so it occurred to him in a blinding flash of paranoia that what he had considered doing to Dick, Dick could very well do to him. If something happened to him, Dick would still be the automatic replacement. Philip wondered if Dick realized that the final selection had been so close. He was quite renowned for his aggressive temper; undeniably he had some violence in him. Perhaps, thought Philip, he ought to take pre-emptive action and murder him anyway. Then again, he might be mistaken, in which case it would be a bit rough on Dick, as well as risky for himself. He'd just have to take care and not lean invitingly out of any four story windows, such as the one he found himself staring out of now.
This might be awful to read if not for the wonderful writing by Shaw and the fine line he walks between dark humor and "ick". The character of Hannah (Philip's sometime girlfriend) reminds me of Patsy from Absolutely Fabulous.

All in all, great 1st book of a series. The last time I read these books was about 17 or so years ago. I wanted to see if I liked them as much now as I did then. So far, so good.

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