One Of Us by Michael Marshall Smith

I guess, like some guy once said,
if triangles invented a god, the chances
are high it would have three sides.
It's been a lot of fun working through Marshall Smith's back catalogue once again, short stories notwithstanding, building up to the very exciting recent release of Hannah Green and Her Unfeasibly Mundane Existence which I hope very soon to devour and regurgitate for your pleasure, post-Wodehouse

Well, for my pleasure at the very least.

It also goes to show just how fallible and self-deceptive the old shallow human mind truly is. I'd almost no recollection of this one whatsoever, except for all the talking white goods (it's not all that juvenile, I promise*) which I'd assumed were actually in one of his other books.

Ah, the perils of chain-reading an author with a very pronounced style!

His three novels as MMS, first person narratives with a charmingly churlish and wise-crackingly unreliable central protagonist, could be read as three stories of the same character but taken from three discrete near-neighbour parallel universes. 

The voice is strong with this one.

Here, Hap Thompson, a fringe career criminal, takes on a dubiously legal job at REMTemps at which, as the name suggests, he dreams the anxiety dreams of people who can afford to pay people to toss and turn at night on their behalf. The explanation of just how this works is hazy at best, but happily for verisimilitude, Hap isn't the stickiest toffee-apple in the barrel so it's believable (quite like many of the other leaps of faith the authors asks of the reader). Unluckily, a lucrative sideline in temporarily stored memory fragments lumbers him with the memory of a murder, and worse, it's a Los Angeles cop. Hap is in serious trouble, but not even he can suspect the true scope of his peril.

There are a few surprising twists (even for me who had already read this once) and that the completely unlikely explanation for it all slips through the censors is down to one thing only - MMS doesn't hang around to take questions. His prose is fluid, whip-crack-sharp and rages like a swollen river over rapids. Everything pushes the reader forward towards the resolution (or as close to as you can get when dealing with... I've said too much), and there just isn't time to be anything other than grateful for an insight into his imagination.

I am genuinely shivering with anticipation to read his next book. I was happy with, but not delighted by, his straight-out horror writing as Michael Marshall, and my interest waned. But with the release of Hannah.... I find myself having to temper my rampant enthusiasm once more. That, if nothing else, is the best praise I can offer.


*Who am I kidding?



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