A Snowball in Hell

A Snowball in Hell

by Christopher Brookmyre

If society has the B-list celebrities it deserves, it now has a killer to match. Except that Simon Darcourt is a great deal more successful than the average talent show contestant. He's bypassing the media completely and posting real-time coverage of his killings on the internet. He's got viewing figures to make TV executives gasp in envy, and he's pulling the voyeuristic strings of every viewer. Angelique De Xavier, his previous nemesis, is drafted onto the police team trying to bring this one-man celebrity hate-fest to an end. But she can't do it alone, and meanwhile a whole load of celebs are, literally, dying to be famous.

  • Series: Angelique De Xavier
  • Language: English
  • Category: Mystery
  • Rating: 4.06
  • Pages: 393
  • Publish Date: August 2008 by Little Brown UK
  • Isbn10: 140870062X
  • Isbn13: 9781408700624

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You know, spend some time reading it and take in all of the clever bits of writing and just enjoy the twists and turns. That means I end up needing to read his novels (at least with the very best of them of which this is one) fast. If you want to find out about this book I suggest you read all three of the books that this one is the last bit of the Angelique de Xavia trilogy (at least, so far). Anyway, Ive already told you about my Brookmyre problem, so delaying the pleasure of reading this one by re-reading the two previous books was never going to be an option. We read this novel from behind the eyes of about three of the characters in turn. Best of all is that Brookmyre sets up a series of things that we know have to happen in this book. But given we know all of these things must happen in no way makes the impossibility of any of them seeming to be able to happen ever at all less likely during the book. If you ever want to write a book like this here are a few pointers Ive picked up mostly from Mr Brookmyre. If, in this book, you can stop reading after page 15 (Im serious, Ive just checked) then this book wont appeal to you at all and you might as well stop reading. The thing is that I knew he was going to have me twisting and turning throughout this book, I even knew where this all had to end up but even knowing both of these things I was still guessing the whole way through and never once did I feel cheated and never once did I know where he was going to twist me. These three novels would make brilliant films particularly my favourite, The Sacred Art of Stealing - and Ive no idea why so little of his stuff has appeared in film.

The Scandinoir (a term I'm desperately trying to push into the mainstream) I've read tends to feature grimly dysfunctional protagonists, tons of self-generated angst and lots of windswept gray seas -- just what you'd expect from the lands that brought us Strindberg and Ibsen. Simon Darcourt -- a high-functioning psychopath recently made redundant from his job as freelance terrorist by the influx of so many other psychopaths willing to work for free -- has decided to better the state of British civilization by killing B-list "celebrities" in wholesale lots. Brookmyre, a Scot, gives the stage in turn to each of his principal characters and even a couple bit players, but his main mouthpieces are de Xavia, a bank robber/magician named Zal Innes, and of course Darcourt. As he did in Where the Bodies Are Buried , the author's able to present a credible and affecting inner life for his main female character, a "wee dark lassie" who's turned into a crack undercover investigator at the cost of her soul. But the author's affection is clearly for Darcourt, whose first-person rants are so insane they make perfect sense, and whose outrage at the squalid tabloid-fueled manufacturing of disposable celebrity is so heartfelt you'll find yourself wondering why he doesn't exist in the real world. A Snow Ball in Hell is a fun, twisty, profane, hyper-attitudinal story that will keep you well-entertained while not hiding the fact that the author's messing with you throughout.

Angelique has crossed paths with Darcourt before and knows how dangerous he is. A SNOWBALL IN HELL brings together characters from two of Brookmyres previous books, A BIG BOY DID IT AND RAN AWAY and THE SACRED ART OF STEALING in a story that is a witty, sharp and sarcastic poke at the cult of celebrity. While reading this, I did start to wonder what sort of person Brookmyre had turned me into, as I at times found myself rather guiltily cheering on Darcourt and laughing at some very gruesome, albeit imaginative, murders!

I recommend reading the other two in the series first (A Big Boy Did It and Ran Away, and The Sacred Art of Stealing), just so you know the characters and situation. Except that it's like a magician's trick -- once you know how it's done, you can't look at the trick the same way again.

To counterbalance the nasty elements of the book, the author revives the love story between Angelique de Xavia and Zal Innez.

Also, it was quite enjoyable to all those moments when you could get cheated and to know how they'd play out.

Angelique is brought in to stop Darcourt and she is as brilliant as ever.