According to The Daily Mail: The audacious sabotage of tacky tabloid newspapers and trashy TV
by Laurence Simpson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Although not without it's flaws, I really enjoyed this novel. It's a crime caper that has hints of Kyril Bonfiglioli, without resorting to his relentless salaciousness. "Will Our Hero get away with it?" is the main question the reader is asking throughout this book, and the answer is left right till the end.
The lead character, Jonathon, is clearly an outrageous Mary Sue - or rather Gary Stu - and yet he is immensely likeable none the less. The other characters are similarly Utopian, through the prism of Jonathon, yet none of them is annoying for it. Nobody is particularly interestingly flawed, but they all feel like plausibly real people. There's naughtiness but no nastiness, and some coy and very British sex scenes which hint at scandalous behaviors while never detailing them - which is how I prefer my sex scenes if I'm honest.
The research which gives this book it's backbone, so far as I can tell in the areas I know something about, was reasonably exacting. In fact, in that respect it reminded me of nothing so much as Ian Fleming, who was incredibly detailed about little things in order to ground his more unbelievable plots in some semblance of reality, and gave Bond his signature drink as a subtle signal of his lack of class.
Another way in which this book reminds me of Fleming is that it's very clearly written by a heterosexual man who has many of the blind spots of a typical heterosexual man - there's maybe a bare Bechdel pass, but the vast majority of the incidental characters are male for no particularly good reason other than that men are what pops into this writer's head - and yet the plot rattles along at such a pace that I found myself not really minding, where in a book that was less fun to read this would really bother me.
This book will annoy those who don't agree with it's politics, mischievous and tongue-in-cheek though they are, but frankly those people are the sort of people I don't mind annoying. The only genuine sour note for me is in one of the appendices, in which there is some unnecessary misgendering of Caitlyn Jenner in a footnote - however I suspect this springs from lack of knowledge rather than malice.
It's inventive and funny - cackle aloud funny in places - and while it's very obviously a fantasy of a certain type of man, sometimes that's all you need for an evening's entertainment. And given several of my previous jobs, I really appreciated the ending.
A solid 4/5, here.
Read this if:
- you want a fun read that will give you a few guffaws
- you share the author's views on the tabloids in general and the Daily Mail in particular
- You like the kind of crime caper where nobody is really a bad guy except the faceless corporations
Don't read this if:
- You need a gender balanced cast (or any sort of diversity at all that isn't inserted by the reader)
- You think the Daily Mail is a quality newspaper
- You value thought-provoking over entertainingView all my reviews