Literature: A Big Boy Did It and Ran Away

The first novel by Christopher Brookmyre to feature Fair Cop Angelique de Xavia as the heroine, it also suffered from 9/11-related bad timing for its original strapline "Terrorism is the new Rock'n'Roll". Moving on...

Raymond Ash is a 30-something former indie musician and game-store entrepreneur, now making a living as an English teacher, a task made no easier by his pupils or the colicky new baby that constantly gets between him, his partner, and sleep. And then one day he sees a face from the past that can't possibly be there. And then plot ensued.

Angelique de Xavia is a short, short-tempered, ethnic minority Glaswegian policewoman who finds herself on the trail of a bigger target than she'd expected - and with about as much backing up and support as you'd expect under her circumstances.

And then it all comes together, and to a head.


  • Old Shame: Someone went to a lot of trouble to hide his Queen records...
  • Serial Killings, Specific Target: The chief villain kills everyone on a passenger jet simply in order to fake his own death.
  • Shout-Out: Simon Darcourt is named after a character in Canadian author Robertson Davies' Cornish trilogy - though he does not resemble him much. At all. In any way.
    • International arms dealer Shaloub "On a sunny day like this, however, you can call me Shub" N'gurath is a Quake shout out—as well as The Cthulhu Mythos.
    • Simon's assumed name for his assignment, Gordon Freeman, is a shout out to Half-Life, as is the name of the power station the climax takes place in, Dubh Ardrain, which is (roughly) the Scots Gaelic for Black Mesa.
      • Also Half-Life, the SAS Captain is one Adrian Shepard.
  • Sociopathic Hero: What "The Dark Spirit" thinks he is. Angelique has another theory: "He's a total wanker".
  • Too Soon: The reviewers loved the book in its hardback edition, which was released comfortably pre-9/11. The author's website has a hilarious page of reviews from before and after.
  • Villain Opening Scene: The first chapter is from Simon's POV.
  • Violent Glaswegian: Angelique, though more in the literal sense than the trope sense.
    • "This is police brutality, ya fuckin' black bitch."
      "No it's not. But you call me that again and I'll show you what is."