Do you know where the X2 is, the Sky Scream, Steel Dragon 2000 or the Cu Chulainn? Do you know what they are even? No. They are various Rollercoasters, The Cu Chulainn is the one nearest me, and that is in Tayto Park in Co. Meath, Ireland. The others are in America, Germany and Japan, and supposedly are the top three scariest rides around the world according Google. As for riding them, Noooo!!!! I’m a card-carrying coward when it comes to that sort of thing, I think the last one I rode was in my early teens. Although after this past year, the above should be a walk in the amusement park. As for the relativity to this month’s book, the lead character’s name is Rod Coaster and this month’s second book review is Rollercoaster by James Essinger and published by Conrad Press (https://theconradpress.com/) 8th February.
When would be hippie, Rod Coaster ups and leaves his rented flat in London and heads out to “Scrape The Tarmac” in search of warmer weather in the South Of France, little does he know what lies ahead? A short distance outside Calais, he hops into the back of an unlocked lorry at a service station and discovers a dying man. Then he finds Silja, a beautiful Finnish girl, pointing gun at him. Now Rod is mixed up in a plot to kill a group of Russian dignitaries at a German hotel. Can he use his superior charm to dissuade this young girl from fulfilling her horribly disfigured parent’s murderous plot.
The front cover of this book describes it as “1970’s comedy thriller for the 21st Century”… This is my second comedy thriller this month, they’re like literary buses. The first one – Jonathan Pinnocks Bad Day In Minsk, had me laughing out loudly at regular intervals. Rollercoaster, barely got me smirking, when it did it was probably down to Essingers off the wall character names, such as Pickling Fox Foetus, his secretary Miss Fallopian, his assistant and lover Eustachia Vixen, Mr Charles Terrapin and his employer Dr Tortoise…. (Sounds more Beatrix Potter, than Agatha Christie).
At two hundred and thirty pages in length, the story in itself is a decent murder mystery thriller and at that a definite one sitting read, but where the apt title comes in, is that it is rather bonkers and therefore one needs timeout every now and then to process what’s going on in the story. It comes across as a sort of Hitchhikers Guide to Murder, something Douglas Adams would have loved. But if you think you are in for a straight up gripping whodunnit, Essinger’s weirdly wired and creative imagination takes you through a series of high speed twists and turns that at times left me thinking “WTF”.
As for the characters, Rod is cross between Austin Powers and a fairground worker, dressed in jeans and a leopard print waistcoat and beads. With a superhuman libido, a way with the women and a weird vocabulary. that includes “Dabs” which are girls, “throbs” are blokes and he regularly refers to his manhood as his “Splicer”, let alone trying to figure out “Yawning The Mud” and what a ”Grund” means – Thank god, he put a glossary in the back of the book. I was a child of the 70’s in England and even I can’t remember using words like that in my formative years growing up in Buckinghamshire (although, it was Buckinghamshire).
The other main characters, Fox Foetus and Ms Vixen, seem to be something akin to what a relationship between Mrs Trunchbull and an adult Pinocchio would be like. But these are real anti-heroes and come across more depraved than the real villains the Finns, Silja and her parents. Although in fairness the parents are the overall masterminds, but placed side by side next Fox Foetus and his malevolent lover, they’re real pussy cats.
This is English author James Essinger’s (www.jamesessinger.com) tenth Book. He has written three other works of Fiction, The Mating Game(2016) with Jovanka Houska, Lost City Of Cantia (2019), The Ada Lovelace Project(2013) with Jovanka Houska – published 2014 in the US as Ada’s Algorithm: how Lord Byron’s daughter launched the digital age. Along with six works of non-fiction including, Jacquard’s Web: how a hand loom led to the birth of the information age (2004), Spellbound: the improbable story of English spelling (2005), Charles and Ada: the computer’s most passionate partnership (2019). As well as that he wrote the music and lyrics for the Ada Lovelace musical. He read English at Cambridge and has been a professional writer since 1988. He currently lives and works in Canterbury where in 2015 he founded the publishing company The Conrad Press.
I didn’t not like this book, but just found it a bit outside the box and off the wall for me, but if off the wall humour is your thing, then carefully head down to your local bookshop and get a copy or click and collect it, while observing all the current Covid regulations and settle in for a whacky ride with Rod and Essinger.
Reviewed by Adrian Murphy
This Book is part of Random Things Blog Tour, to see what the other reviewers thought, visit their blogs listed below. Then, if you get a copy, comeback and tell us what you thought. We would really appreciate the feedback.