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Devil in Disguise

July 15th, 2010 · Posted by Skuds in Life · No Comments · Life

One last Vine review to clear the backlog.  This time it is Devil in Disguise by Julian Clary.

I enjoyed it on a couple of levels. Apart from the story, there was a more personal level of enjoyment which was an element of nostalgia.   Molly ans Simon, the two main characters, met while at Goldsmiths which was just up the road from where I lived for quite a few years, so parts of the book were set in my old manor, even to the extent of an actual street name ringing a bell.So I was already reading with one part of my mind comparing the descriptions of being young and living in London, but then there was the aspect of Simon’s sexual preferences.  Basically he is gay but has a thing for straight men and gets turned off by other gay men.  It sounds implausible, but when I lived in London one of our friends – well more a friend of a friend – had similar tastes and often told us tales of seducing soldiers from the London barracks and shared the secret of his tactics with us, ((it involved very specific videos))  so I had some sort of real-life template for the character.  I reckon it made the whole thing more believable for me than it might otherwise have been.

Anyway, here is what I wrote:

I am always a little bit wary of celebrity novels, especially those written by comedians who have been on TV a lot, in case they turn out to be weak books sold purely on name recognition.  It is an irrational worry really as I have previously enjoyed novels by Sean Hughes, Eric Morecambe, Alexie Sayle, Ben Elton, Mark Gattiss and Stephen Fry but I can’t shake it. With this book the worries disappeared within the first couple of pages.

There is not a lot of depth to it, although that is fitting as the two main characters are pretty shallow people, sometimes the plot leaps forward a little too quickly, and it certainly ends far too suddenly, but for all that it is a good read. For most of the book I was in a rush to find out what happened next and at least liked the characters enough to be wanting everything to turn out OK for them.

As you would expect from a comedian, there are quite a few laughs in the book, more from lines that characters come up with than from descriptions or situations, but there are some darkly surreal situations too.  I like the way that Clary threw in a few false turns too, where it looks like the story is heading towards a particular place and just as you are pre-emptively yawning at the predictability of it the story goes somewhere else instead.

I read this on the sofa between World Cup games, but I reckon it would have made a good holiday book. By the end of it I decided that I will probably track down his previous books at some point, although I know they won’t give me what I really want, which is to know more about the enigmatic and creepy Lilia Delvard from this story.

Watch out for: Clary ‘doing a Martin Amis’ and putting himself into the book, albeit as an ‘off-stage’ character.

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