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Every now and again I find an unforgettable gem of a thriller - this is one of them because it is clever, realistic and very funny, in a dark kind of way. It is especially unforgettable because the "anti-hero", Sami Macbeth, has the ability turn a desperate situations into hopeless ones.
Sami has two ambitions, to be a guitarist in a popular rock band and to care for his sister, Nadia. She is part Algerian (as is Sami), nineteen and absolutely beautiful. His first hopeless situation happens when Sami is being driven home from a gig by a friend who runs away when the van is stopped by the police because, unknown to Sami, gems from a major robbery are stashed in the van. For the last 3 years Sami hasn't been able to care for Nadia because he has been in jail as an accessory to the robbery. His time in jail is relatively comfortable because the long term dangerous prisoners protect him as they believe he is a master safecracker.
After 3 years all Sami wants to do is to get laid and care for Nadia. He succeeds with trumps on the first one but Nadia is missing. A drug lord, Tony Murphy thinks Sami is a master safecracker and wants his help. He holds the trump card as he has put Nadia under his control by forcing her to become a crackhead. On top of this, dangerous society criminal kingpin, Ray Garza is chasing him for different reasons.
There follows a litany of hopeless but extremely humorous situations. Sami is forced to help someone blow up a safe for Murphy and during their escape his companion blows himself up on the London Underground. Sami is chased by the police as a suspected terrorist and inadvertently gets involved in a bloody hostage situation. Things keep going from bad to worse with the entire London police force chasing him on terrorist alert. The only saving grace is that so many of the situations are so downright hilarious they made me laugh out loud.
The book is set in the UK and written in the local vernacular (eg the police are "rozzers"). The bad guys are really bad and violent, aided by a bent senior policeman from Scotland Yard. Fortunately for Sami his parole officer and her ex-husband, retired detective Vincent Ruiz, are on Sami's side.
Michael Robotham is an Australian author who writes fast moving and skillfully plotted. I'm sure that I detect some Aussie humour in the book. He has written several very good more serious bestselling psychological thrillers set in the UK which I have enjoyed. This is a stand-alone dark humour thriller which I enjoyed even more and is highly recommended. His books are being released in the US and will hopefully get the same following that he has in the UK. The e-book I read was a reissue of a book first published in 2008.