A Shot in the Dark

By Lynne Truss to be published in June 2018.

I will admit that I did indeed judge this book by its cover and was genuinely intrigued by its description- both of which, magically, do the work no justice whilst simultaneously being perfectly suited to it.

Truss is clearly an accomplished writer with a resume that speaks for itself. Her credentials are not up for debate or of any real import here. But her ability certainly is! I love linguistic prowess and this book certainly has it. The narrative voice is stupendously funny and has a no holds barred approach to thrusting the characters right off the page without ever painting them in any substantial physical detail but giving them enough to make them fully recognisable. The one or two poignant features (and in the case of A.S. Crystal, a pungent one) are more than enough as the attention is instead infused into their idiosyncratic characteristics. The marriage of this narrative style and character development is at times beautiful;

“…as they walked wordlessly to the Queen Adelaide together, that maybe a deeper intimacy had been created between them by this unpleasant affair- which is the sort of thing that nice women like Penny sometimes sweetly delude themselves with, when involved with irredeemable egomaniacs like Jack.”

It does more than that, however. It structures the story in its apparent outwardly bumbling events whilst meticulously weaving together it’s underlining plot. Daringly, it further adds a metafictional element by quite literally referring to the characters in the story and the reader’s position relative to it. And it works brilliantly! I think the narrative voice and its role in the story as the unintentional comedian is my favourite feature and a defining one for this novel. Its almost written in a way that one might imagine a Guy Ritchie movie play out. But. move aside Guy, because Truss has this production down, lock, stock and barrel!

The end then? I think perhaps, for me, this was what made this something I would very much like to see on the big screen. Bringing that narrative voice would quite probably be impossible in a screenplay as so many written delights often are. But after the plot twists and climactic scenes are unveiled, the end is not a resolution. Of course, it was never meant to be really, but there is something very ominous and darkly funny about where this story could go and darker still, that you most definitely want it to go. Remember the Silence of the Lambs finale? Swap the trilby and cannibalism for a theatre prop and iced coconut cake and we most definitely will be having an old friend for tea in this case.


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