One Fine Day in the Middle of the Night – Christopher Brookmyre – Audible Book Review
by Patrick Viale
Read by Angus King
It’s been a grim last 12 months! The rollercoaster months of lockdown and social distancing, the nightly catalogue on the news of deaths and new cases of covid infection, accompanied by the seemingly endless disputes over Brexit have us holding our head in our hands like Munch’s iconic painting of The Scream. Never have we been more in need of things to lift the spirit, to block out reality for a few hours and help us indulge in mindless relaxation. Christopher Brookmyre’s anarchic and zany Tartan Noir thrillers do just that and “One Fine Day in the Middle of the Night”, set in the pre-mobile phone era of the 1990s, is the perfect introduction to an author who deserves far wider recognition.
The premise alone of this novel is enough to bring a smile to our lips. Gavin, a tour operator with big ambitions, hits on a plan to create a novel holiday venture that he is convinced will revolutionise the tourist industry. In his experience, most tourists hate everything about “abroad” apart from the good weather so he decides to develop the perfect tourist enclave where they will have all the same shops, food and attitudes that they are used to at home – plus sunny weather – without ever having to meet or deal with a “foreigner”. The plan is to locate this, sometime in the future, off the coast of West Africa but in the meantime, he creates a prototype on a converted oil-rig in the North Sea off the coast of Scotland and, to put it to the test, organises a reunion of his ex-classmates, few of whom can even remember who he is.
Never popular in school, Gavin is determined to show his classmates what a success he has made of his life. No expense is spared and he has choreographed the whole weekend down to the smallest detail to create an experience they will never forget. But he seems to have forgotten the warning from his fellow Scotsman, the poet Robbie Burns, that “the best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley” His wife Simone, furious at his constant infidelities, has planned a surprise of her own during his unveiling ceremony but, unknown to both of them, another group have invited themselves along — a collection of inept terrorist mercenaries, armed with machine-guns and rocket-launchers who are of more danger to themselves than to the general public. The chaos that ensues (think Die Hard crossed with the Marx Brothers) will have you laughing out loud as you listen.
The narrator, Scottish actor Angus King, is flawless in capturing the tension in certain key scenes and in differentiating between the large cast of different characters. He has a great talent for accents from the more plummy public school Brit to the almost incomprehensible inner-city Glaswegian thug. This audiobook will brighten up the dullest day and is the perfect companion on solitary socially distanced walks.
It is available from audible.co.uk and lasts 11hrs 32mins