When drug addict Felix McAveety’s best friend Marina’s body is discovered in a park, Felix sets off on his own to uncover the culprit given the police force’s lack of leads. As the evidence begins to arrive fast and furious, Felix enlists the help of others including his ecstatic downstairs neighbor, as well as a successful crime novelist among others, to bring about justice for his friend.
For anyone that knows me, it’s no secret that I am a huge fan of Frankie Boyle’s comedy. While his brilliantly nihilistic panel show, Frankie Boyle’s New World Order, is not shown over the air here in Canada, I make sure to keep up through other means. When I heard that he was writing a crime fiction novel, I knew I had to get my hands on it – even if that meant importing it from the UK. Having finished it, it would be an understatement to say that this book did not disappoint.
Never have I ever laughed this hard while reading a crime novel. With the novel’s protagonist Felix, Frankie has definitely injected him with much of his own sense of humor as well as his often fatalistic view of society. I don’t believe I’ve ever highlighted as many passages in one novel to send to friends than I have for this book. I’m very happy that my wife is also a fan of Boyle’s because I certainly said “Hey, can I read you this one part?” over and over again while reading next to her in bed.
That being said, if you’re going to write a mystery novel, you need a tightly constructed whodunnit at the center and I would be lying if I said MEANTIME didn’t have me guessing where things were going until the very end. Lots of red herrings abound with several plausible explanations as to how Maria met her end. I loved Felix’s interactions with the suspects as well as those close to him that he would come to find he couldn’t trust completely either. His conversations with celebrity author Jane Pickford contained some of the most naturally flowing dialogue I’ve read in a while and his balls-to-the-wall interaction with his hyperactive downstairs neighbor Donnie had me in tears from laughing.
Without spoiling too much, in the final few chapters of MEANTIME, Frankie writes about grief and regret in a way that absolutely crushed me. I had tears in my eyes on more than a few occasions. To have the ability to convey feelings the way he did either suggests maybe his own past trauma or an incredibly special talent to relate to that level of loss on that deep of a level.
I honestly can’t recommend this one enough. It will absolutely end up in my Top 10 at year’s end – it’s that damn good. If like me, you can find humor in even the most desperate of situations, then this one will fit well within your wheelhouse. MEANTIME is a drug-fueled exploration through the seedy underbelly of the Scottish crime scene
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