Thursday, November 03, 2011

Cross Dressed to Kill by Andrew Lucas .

This novel was released as a 575 KB Amazon Kindle eBook and was written in 2011. This is not your usual crime thriller but a humorous anthropological study of Britain today. This story is written in the first person, from the point of view of a male hairdresser working alone in a fictitious small British town. He is a lovely, likeable character with a sharp wit about anybody and everything. This book covers a lot of ground and confronts lifestyles and people's prejudices. Andrew Lucas has a good writing style which is very similar to Mark Steel .

This hairdresser has a good rant about life and people which is very entertaining. He has his finger on the pulse by capturing the zeitgeist of Britain, with it's trends and frustrations of urban life. For example at location 100...

It wasn’t that it was raining or even cold, the sky was still blue and the air was still fresh, but queuing outside a shop, worse, queuing outside a takeaway first thing in the morning. Forget the time it takes, it’s just so demeaning, so bloody desperate. If Starbucks hadn’t been the only supplier of sharp lemon cake, I would have taken my three pounds an eighty-five pence and marched straight to the Columbian Organic Coffee Kingdom, or whatever it’s called.

at location 2196...

Make-up removal is never as easy as it should be. I’ve always sympathised with women, the agonies they have to suffer and the fuss they have to contend with. Forget pregnancy and childbirth. Hair, make-up, exfoliation, cleansing, toning, moisturising, that’s the real chore. Trannies might think it fun, but ask anyone with a real female chromosome, and she’ll tell you the truth.

at location 2402...

I couldn’t believe it. For ten years I’d been a regular customer at the Starbucks on my High Street, ever since the wretched place opened - ten years! Spotty Julie had barely been working there for ten minutes, how dare she sell my cake!

at location 6857...

‘Hide in plain view’ I recalled hearing an expert advise while being interviewed on some news programme or another, I think the ex military sort was talking about radicals at the time, and how they pass unnoticed in their home communities, but I reckoned the concept sounded fluid.

This novel creates a great empathy for the hairdresser, for example at location 2434...

I marched straight up to her, ready for a fight. Being five minutes early is one thing, positive punctuality if you like, but arriving almost half an hour before the allotted time just smacked of pushy impatience to me. Even on good days, I hated it when clients did that.

This story covers a great many social taboos and explores the characters moods and emotions wonderfully. The most powerful bit was "the nothing". This really captures the darkness of depression and is very moving. At location 5129 you read...

Of course, the thing that I remember most vividly of all from that time is what I think of now as ‘the nothing’. I’d never experienced anything like it before and I hope that I never have to experience anything like it again. Thankfully, most people never have to experience it at all. It is quite simply, in my opinion at least, one of the most disgusting things for a human being to have to endure. ‘The nothing’ is not something that can be easily explained, it is, after all, sort of… nothingy… a waking emotionless sleep perhaps, a bland-middleness, a couldn’t-carelessness, an emptiness, a ‘Greydom’. When ‘the nothing’ first took me in, it consumed every part of my very being. While it is easy enough to understand the idea of misery or fear or even abject loneliness, all dreadful of course, with ‘the nothing’ well… there’s nothing much to get a handle on. I couldn’t tell you that I felt suicidal or even especially wretched, because really I didn’t. Somehow, it was even worse than that. I just felt empty I guess… nothing.

There is some death in this novel but it is not gruesome, more a case of "Whoops!" Cross Dressed to Kill is a joy to read, it is easy to absorb and was The 2011 'Summer Reading' Award Winner. There is good observational commentary about people, for example at location 146...

And several years ago, I worked with a girl who’d spend the first half hour of every single morning sitting cross legged on her kitchen table with a magnifying glass and a pair of medical tweezers plucking her pubic hair.

at location 561...

Again, apart from my niece’s sensibly laconic three-word speech when presented with her best student award - ‘Thanks very much’ - the occasion was a fiasco. Of the seven senior officers seated on the podium, two fell asleep, two couldn’t stop scratching themselves, and the most senior, a chief superintendant who looked like a bulldog and was supposed to be holding the event together, fell of his chair.

and location 6600...

In England, beyond a certain indeterminate age, people do that, they have falls, they do not ‘slip over’ or ‘tumble’ or even ‘trip’, no, beyond a certain age the wobbly English ‘have falls’.

This book ends with a nice pleasant epilogue which makes you feel happy for the hairdresser. Cross Dressed to Kill is a good book and I shall vote it 4 stars on Good Reads .
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