His books are surrealistic, deeply irreverent and bitingly satirical. His characters may be larger than life, but are always rendered with total plausibility, however outrageous their actions. And the body count of his books is high--the world of Christopher Brookmyre's fiction is as dangerous as it is blackly comic. But is he a crime writer? A Big Boy Did It and Ran Away is another massive phantasmagoria, written with the author's customary caustic wit--and there's a character in it (a fast-living, highly successful assassin) who could have strayed in from a thriller. But such impressions never last for long--Brookmyre belongs to no genre, and this book is as uncategorisable as such previous epics as Boiling a Frog and the splendidly biting Quite Ugly One Morning.
In A Big Boy Did It... , his beleaguered hero Raymond Ash is struggling with the banal reality of his life as an English teacher and lamenting the evaporation of his student dreams. Responsibility isn't pleasant, Raymond has found. He takes refuge in a sad virtual existence, his online doodling substituting for real life. And then he encounters an old friend, whom he thought dead. Simon has achieved success in rock star-like terms: massive financial rewards, global travel, even notoriety. But his route has been that of the professional killer, and at that trade he's top of the tree. Raymond is seduced by the excitement of time spent with his old pal, even though he's reluctant to get involved with him again. But get involved he does, and soon every aspect of his life is under threat, with Ray yearning for the pretend violence of a computer game over the messy reality he's catapulted himself into.
Brookmyre sees terrorists and killers such as Simon as being self-deluded; whatever reasons they think they're performing their ruthless activities for (religion, a cause, money), they're really on a sad power trip, sublimating their craving for mass acclaim into violence. But he's never solemn--no diatribes here, unlike the organised religion he has so much distaste for. Brookmyre is adept at pulling the rug from beneath the reader's feet (Simon is attractive, until we get to know him better). The writing is always sharp, always funny, always innovative.--Barry Forshaw