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Be My Enemy de Christopher Brookmyre
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Be My Enemy (2004 original; edició 2005)

de Christopher Brookmyre (Autor)

Sèrie: Jack Parlabane (4)

MembresRessenyesPopularitatValoració mitjanaMencions
507837,268 (3.89)9
It was a junket, a freebie. A 'team-building' weekend in the highlands for lawyers, advertising execs, businessmen, even the head of a charity. Oh, and a journalist, specially solicited for his renowned and voluble scepticism - Jack Parlabane. Amid the flying paintballs and flowing Shiraz even the most cynical admit the organisers have pulled some surprises - stalkers in the forest, power cuts in the night, mass mobile phone thefts, disappearing staff, disappearing guests: there's nothing can bring out people's hidden strengths or break down inter-personal barriers quite like not having a clue what's going on and being scared out of your wits. However, when the only vehicular access for thirty miles is cut off it seems that events are being orchestrated not just for pleasure ... And that's before they find the first body. Thereafter, 'finding out who your colleagues really are' is not so much an end product as the key to reaching Monday morning alive. Visit the author's website at www.brookmyre.co.uk… (més)
Membre:allan.nail
Títol:Be My Enemy
Autors:Christopher Brookmyre (Autor)
Informació:Time Warner Books Uk (2005), Edition: First Edition, 416 pages
Col·leccions:La teva biblioteca
Valoració:
Etiquetes:No n'hi ha cap

Detalls de l'obra

Be My Enemy de Christopher Brookmyre (2004)

No n'hi ha cap
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» Mira també 9 mencions

Es mostren 1-5 de 8 (següent | mostra-les totes)
I just kept thinking this could be half decent if it wasn't written straight. And then I realised I can just pretend like it's written for laughs and it got a lot better. ( )
  Paul_S | Apr 5, 2021 |
Trust a Parlabane book to make me laugh out loud even at the most gruesome of descriptions. Five stars, that's it. ( )
  MissYowlYY | Jun 12, 2020 |
great writing, fab story. Totally recommend ( )
  Felicity-Smith | May 29, 2016 |
I have always enjoyed reading Brookmyre’s books. They are notably the exception to the ‘brilliant title = rubbish book’ general rule since, in his case, titles and books are equally good. Actually, this isn’t one of his best titles (see the warning section for what he wanted to call it) but I was anticipating a cracking read anyway.

The premise…

…is beautifully summed up by the blurb, so I’m going to outright steal the first bit:

‘For investigative journalist Jack Parlabane, these are worrying times: it’s been almost three years since anyone tried to kill him and he fears he’s losing his touch. But then comes an assignment in the Scottish countryside that will more than make up for lost time…’

This beautifully characterises Brookmyre’s narrative style: there’s unbelievable, snowballing chaos, usually depicted with a deliciously ironic touch.

The rest of the blurb is equally apt but it would be wrong to steal it all, so I’ll summarise. Parlabane is invited to participate, for free, in a corporate team-building weekend. Despite being convinced that these kind of events are ‘for bankers’ he decides that it’ll be good to reinforce his prejudices by attending. However, as the weekend continues the corporate games become oddly…deadly. Is this really a game? Or is everybody fighting for their lives?

I was intrigued by the concept and, based on my previous experience of reading Brookmyre, looked forward to some action and crime brightened with dark comedy and interspersed with political discussion.

My thoughts

Parlabane is a recurring lead character in several of Brookmyre’s books so I knew what to expect and he didn’t disappoint. He is caustic, irreverent and always ready to commit illegal acts in his search for the truth. Early on he dismisses the idea that he merely detested Margaret Thatcher, stating: ‘I spent the entire Eighties wishing I was p***ing on her rotting corpse’. This is not untypical of his manner and attitude. As such it’s impossible to say that I liked or admired him, but he is very entertaining. As an anti-hero, he works well, largely because the idiots he sends up are so daft that you have some sympathy for his jaded view of the world. He is the kind of character that you know is going to wind people up and land himself in danger which I felt was a large element of what made the story so readable.

On a memorial page for Douglas Adams, Brookmyre acknowledged a debt to Adams by stating that ‘Parlabane was entirely inspired by Ford Prefect: I always adored the idea of a character who cheerfully wanders into enormously dangerous situations and effortlessly makes them much worse.’ This is certainly true of Parlabane in this book – indeed, Brookmyre’s novels often seems to be more comedy than crime caper and that was particularly true of this story. This isn’t intended as a criticism because I really enjoyed the satirical humour but in libraries and bookshops it is often marketed as crime fiction and I would argue that the crime element, while significant, is subordinated to the humour, so readers who are only interested in crime might be a bit surprised. I won’t say disappointed because I personally find the style very entertaining. In fact, I found it laugh out loud entertaining in places, which meant that other people on buses tended to think I was a bit mad. One Guardian reviewer suggested that the writing verged on stand-up comedy, but I think the strong plotting means that the story never feels subordinate to the comedy.

There is a prologue which I generally think is a helpful touch. The prologue here develops a mini story of espionage and M15 activity over two chapters and twenty pages. It is set a year earlier than the rest of the story and initially seems irrelevant, albeit interesting. Its conclusion is highly suggestive in terms of the mini story and, although I didn’t initially see the relevance, it’s an entertaining bit of cloak and dagger fun. By the end of the book it was completely clear how it all tied in and, having established certain facts at the beginning, meant that the reader was spared pages of tedious dialogue exploring the facts and connections.

Each chapter has a short title rather than a number and these are in keeping with the rest of the book, so the first title is ‘Margaret Thatcher’s Rotting Corpse’. They are clearly intended to intrigue rather than to give you any real information about plot developments, but they certainly suit their role. I was intrigued by this title, and by ‘Buggery and Aperitifs’ and by ‘Best Kept Secret’ and – well, you get the idea. The chapters themselves vary from about 15 pages to 30+, which is rather long, and there are no switches in perspective or breaks in time during the chapters. This does mean that the book is a little tricky to dip in and out of, but the action is ongoing and I never found that I was bored. The narration is third person throughout and switches focus throughout the novel. I liked the change in narration because it allowed a fresh view on several of the characters and because it helped to create some moments of mystery. I thought that Brookmyre could have spent a little less time setting up some of the characters though; I didn’t need their whole life history to appreciate their responses to the other characters. This was a minor quibble really. Predictably, some of these characters clash, which allows for spirited dinner table debate, especially when they discuss politics. I enjoyed the discussions but was a little surprised to realise that, after 140 odd pages, there was still no crime.

In fact, nearly 200 pages pass before something happens that might be a crime, which is literally half the book. I didn’t feel impatient at any point, but I was aware that there was something ‘missing’. However, the slow development has prepared the scene for a whole range of developments and once things do start going badly they quickly cascade out of control. Someone is missing, an attack is massing and there’s some highly suspicious meat… I found that the build up did hold my interest throughout but think the second half of the book was slightly more enjoyable. Brookmyre handles the frenetic activity well and each character comes into their own. As the book moves towards its conclusion there is a lot of violence but it is written in a slapstick manner and handled very lightly. For instance:

"Well, are you not going to give the man a round of applause?" he asked. "I mean, that was f***ing amazing, didn't you think? Honestly, if you'd asked me ten minutes ago, hypothetically, if it was possible to cut your own head off, I'd have said unequivocally no. You've really got to hand it to the bloke -- though it's fair to say luck was involved. I mean, there's no way he could do it again."

This is the level throughout and – although there are events that, reflected upon, could easily make you feel sick – the light descriptions meant that I groaned with laughter rather than revulsion. Brookmyre is on record as saying that fatherhood has probably developed his revolting streak rather than suppressed it since he is constantly dealing with bodily functions. Nothing is considered off limits but it’s all written for humour and nothing is gory or simply sickening. I am very squeamish and I never once had to close the book, so I think it would be fine for other readers, unless they are offended by violence and the cartoon use of bodily functions.

The ending is well handled. After the chaos is over there are two very short concluding chapters titled ‘Later’ and ‘Later still’. In these you learn what has happened to all the characters since the events in the story. As throughout, the approach adopted is humorous and brisk. Typically, Brookmyre includes a completely random update about a minor element of the story. This made me smile, which was a great way to finish the book. I really like stories with definite endings, so this was a really good ending for me.

A final aspect of the book which stands out is its Scottishness. The book is thoroughly located in space through geographical references and dialogue. Brookmyre refuses to explain Scots words used or references made but they are typically familiar or the meaning is clear from their context so I did not feel that this was a problem. In fact I really liked the strong sense of place and the fact that this had a clear location.

A warning

Brookmyre likes to swear. A lot. His alternative title is ‘fuck this for a game of soldiers’ and the first sentence of the novel denounces Bin Laden as ‘A fucking charlatan.’ This is perfectly fitting in both instances: the title nicely captures Parlabane’s attitude, and the dialogue suits his rough-round-the-edges characters. However, if swearing bothers you then this really is not the book for you.

On a side note, if you aren’t bothered by the swearing and you ever get the chance to see Brookmyre talking about his books, do take it. He tells highly amusing tales about the BBC’s attitude to swearing, which is essentially a numbers game. I could elaborate, but trust me: it’s far more entertaining to listen to Brookmyre. And, yes, he swears in public too.

Conclusions

I enjoyed reading this book even though the crime element took a long time to ‘kick in’. I enjoyed the satire, the political discussions and the set up. I thought the characters were suitably well developed for their roles and that the developments, while verging on the ludicrous when considered discretely, all tied in together nicely in a well plotted story. I liked the sense of place and didn’t find the swearing excessive, which I have done in some of Brookmyre’s previous novels (perhaps he was wrong; perhaps fatherhood has made him a bit less rude!) I was pleased that the story concluded in the way it did and that everything was neatly wrapped up. I would definitely read another of Brookmyre’s books, whether it followed Parlabane’s adventures or not, because I like his style. I think his style is similar to Carl Hiaasen, who writes comic environmental crime action thrillers (note the similar diversity of genres!) so if you’ve read and liked something by him then you’ll probably like this. ( )
1 vota brokenangelkisses | Feb 25, 2011 |
Plot:
When Jack Parlabane gets an invitation to attend the ultimate team-building experience and then write about it in his paper, nobody would have thought that “ultimate” was to be taken literally. While the participants are growing as a team by shooting each other with paint ball guns, they stumble upon a group of soldiers – who unfortunately start shooting for real. And that’s when the trouble only starts.

I really enjoyed Be My Enemy. It made me laugh out loud on several occasions. It’s also pretty gory, probably the Brookmyre book with the most bloodshed so far. But once you’ve read about somebody accidentally beheading himself, there’s just no going back.

Read more at my blog: http://kalafudra.wordpress.com/2010/05/19/be-my-enemy-christopher-brookmyre/ ( )
  kalafudra | Jun 10, 2010 |
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It was a junket, a freebie. A 'team-building' weekend in the highlands for lawyers, advertising execs, businessmen, even the head of a charity. Oh, and a journalist, specially solicited for his renowned and voluble scepticism - Jack Parlabane. Amid the flying paintballs and flowing Shiraz even the most cynical admit the organisers have pulled some surprises - stalkers in the forest, power cuts in the night, mass mobile phone thefts, disappearing staff, disappearing guests: there's nothing can bring out people's hidden strengths or break down inter-personal barriers quite like not having a clue what's going on and being scared out of your wits. However, when the only vehicular access for thirty miles is cut off it seems that events are being orchestrated not just for pleasure ... And that's before they find the first body. Thereafter, 'finding out who your colleagues really are' is not so much an end product as the key to reaching Monday morning alive. Visit the author's website at www.brookmyre.co.uk

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