Fiction Reviews

One of Us

(1999) Michael Marshall Smith, HarperCollins, 6.99, lgpbk, 307pp, ISBN 0-00-649997-X

Hap Thompson has a lucrative job caretaking other people's memories. Unfortunately for him, the whole activity is illegal, and now someone has dropped a murder into his head. That's bad enough, but the victim was a high ranking police officer, and the detective investigating still wants Hap for a hold-up that went horribly wrong several years before. And who are the shade-wearing, grey-suited men with shotguns who are also looking for him? And why has Hap's ex-wife accepted the contract on his life...?

This black and genuinely humourous tale continues Smith's earlier successes (the highly recommended Only Forward and Spares) and demonstrates (if further demonstration were needed) that Smith is a writer of the very first rank. From the ingenious to the surreal, the poignant to the hysterical, this tale explores the confusing territory of what we mean to each other in a combination of brilliantly realised thriller and rollercoaster SF. And the good news is that we should shortly see a collection of Smith's short stories, which I for one am avidly looking forward to. Only Forward has been re-issued, for those who missed it first time around.

Tony Chester

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