A Heart in the Right Place by Heide Goody and Iain Grant – black comedy and farce?

A dark comedy which starts in the mundane realities of contemporary life; a misdirected package starts a chain of events in which two of the characters compare films which feature similar scenes of blood and gore. Cold blooded murder, some torture and inventive death feature heavily, and this is certainly not a book for those of a nervous disposition. There is also humour and some surprisingly tender moments as misunderstandings and misapprehensions abound. The characters are all very different, and well drawn contemporary people put in dramatically unusual situations. Despite the sometimes disturbing descriptions, I found this was a book that was a compelling read. I was pleased to be asked to read and review this book as part of a blog tour.

Nick has several dilemmas to cope with for one morning. Despite his extensive precautions a precious bottle of whisky is delivered to another address, and after fruitlessly trying to contact his neighbour, a certain Oz Bingley, he goes into work. He is teased by his ex girlfriend as he realises his spectacular failure (though very funny) in an advertising presentation. He is planning to take his very ill father on one last weekend away to Scotland, to satisfy a fantasy of whisky, log fires and clay pigeon shooting. Meanwhile, an assassin or secret operative are searching for Oz for strange reasons which take some time to emerge. Casual brutality becomes the order of the day as the hapless Nick, now absolutely filthy, his unwitting father, Tony, a newly acquired dog, Pickles and a strangely loaded car are pursued to a strange and violent conflict. Finn and associate, Adam, have used some disturbing means in pursuit, but nothing will stop them in their mission. There are touching moments as the relationship between Nick and Tony becomes more honest, and life and death become reality in frightening ways. Nothing is held back as bodies, creatures, blood and gore flow freely, Nick and Tony discuss film series, and the comedy can only get more dark and ridiculous. It is never certain who or what will survive, and only by reading on that the sometimes bewildered reader can attempt to keep up with what is going on.

This is a book that can exasperate, confuse and disturb, while entertaining and intriguing the reader. I found that it sometimes overstepped belief and taste, but was just about rescued by its humour and accurate portrayals of its hapless hero, Nick. I am not sure that some of the excruciating detail was necessary, but I can see that many small incidents contribute to the overall achievement of the book. Nick is a clever creation as everyman assailed on every side, and I found his conversations with Tony fascinating. Finn is a frightening character, determined, driven and destructive, who is sometimes beyond belief. There is an element of farce in this book, with characters colliding in all senses and forces seemingly beyond anyone’s control. This book pushes many limits in my opinion, and there were parts that I found a little disturbing and unnecessary, but it is definitely a romp of a very contemporary type.

 

Image result for a heart in the right place Goody and Grant

Yes, another post, as I try to sort my reviews out. As I frequently say, so many books!