Not the End of the World
The crew of an oceanic research vessel goes missing in the Pacific along with their mini-submarine. An evangelical media star holds a rally next door to a convention in LA devoted to 'nubile' cinematic entertainment. The cops know there's going to be trouble and they are not disappointed. What they didn't foresee was the presence in their state of a Glaswegian photographer with an indecipherable accent and a strong dislike of hypocrisy or of a terrorist who seems to have access to plutonium as well as Semtex
Reviewed on 25th May 2010
This is quite a strange novel. Mostly in terms of it's structure. The story focuses on Luther St John, a Christian fundamentalist who predicts his god will send a destructive tidal wave to destroy LA. He then goes out of his way to ensure he's right. Meanwhile Scottish photographer Steff falls head over heels with the model he is shooting. It's an odd blend of comedy crime romance that succeeds in pulling off all three.
The structure is weird because about half of the narrative consists of flashbacks explaining the history of each character in turn. Annoyingly with the exception of Larry, the police sergeant, who hints at elements of history throughout but never goes into much detail, and Steff - together the two main characters. As a character building exercise it's very interesting, but it slows down the action and in some places (particularly St John's history) is too distracting from the main focus.
The plot is surprisingly believable, despite the extreme nature of the fundamentalists, and their background is fleshed out enough to give a satisfactory insight into how they got where they are. The story starts with quite a large number of disparate plots which tie together nicely by the end.
There are a few subtle hints that this is the same world as Brookmyre's previous novels, but done well enough that if you have not read them you won't spot them, unlike some books I have read which seem to plug earlier stories by the same author. Other than the fundamentalists being very annoying in places (but that's realism!) it's been a good read, despite some places having to force myself through to get back to the story.
The presentation was a little disappointing. The chapter headings in my copy match the previous (blue) cover, rather than the new (green) cover that my book has, and I felt the publisher could at least have tried for a consistent design.