Reviewed by Simon Ives
This is the third instalment of The Great Collective series, with one more volume to come, and continues the tale of Peter Smith.
If you have read the previous books in the series then you will know that Peter is dead and also not dead. If you haven’t read them, I wouldn’t start from here.
We are immediately greeted with an edition of the 7 o’clock TV news and the announcement that “Tonight at 10, Peter Smith will commit suicide live on TV and you, the viewers at home, can vote for which method he uses.” It’s an intriguing premise to start a book with.
The Government has agreed to allow assisted suicide and Peter appears to be taking that decision to the furthest degree. He is supported by his number one fan, Neville Jeffries, while Felicity Wood opposes as a prominent suicide prevention worker. I won’t spoil the surprise by telling you if the suicide goes ahead or not, just expect a few twists along the way.
As usual, Gareth Wiles’ work is full of subtle nuances that amuse and downright confuse. Returning cast members include Peter’s mother, brother and sister-in-law, the less-than-competent and occasionally murderous Mrytleville Police Force, crime fighting duo Mrs Hinklebottom and Mr Monkey (glove puppet or real?) and the supernatural Reaping Icon.
The live suicide incident is resolved by page 122 and there follow what appear to be two short stories, an additional 68 pages, making this the slimmest volume of the series to date. To my mind there were more gratuitous sex scenes, too.
In some ways it appears that the author is treading water with this volume, but if you like the characters and style this is still an essential purchase. Roll on the concluding book, Where the Birds Hide at Night. I might get a clue as to what the heck is going on…