Allan's Reviews > Boxer, Beetle
by Ned Beauman
by Ned Beauman
Boxer, Beetle is wonderfully written. Funny, raw and true to its mark, every sentence and phrase is jewel-like but not at all precious. The humor is dark and deadly. Grit underfoot and the taste of blood...rusty barbed wire and macabre death.[return][return]The novel begins in the present day with Kevin “Fishy” Broom who suffers from trimethylaminuria, a rare condition that leaves him smelling horribly like rotting fish! He collects and deals in Nazi memorabilia. [return][return]Fishy is a strangely likeable character. Working for wealthy property developer Grublock, who also collects Nazi memorabilia, he is sent to check up on a private investigator. Finding him dead, he also finds a note to someone called Dr. Erskine from Adolf Hitler. When Grublock is murdered, the novel turns into a tense fast-paced thriller as Fishy attempts to find out the connection between the entomologist Erskine, the jewish boxer “Sinner” Roach and whoever is on his trail and killing people. [return][return]The novel alternates between the quest in the present day and, more often, chapters set in the 30s as the events take place.[return][return]The characters are not likeable but you like them anyway. Seth “Sinner” Rauch, a jewish boxer in 1930s London is despicably heartwarming. Dr. Erskine the eugenics-obsessed entomologist is driven and wrong-headed but so sincere! There are no heroes in this novel. No one of redeeming character. Everyone is wonderfully engaging in the most goulish way. [return][return]There are long lovely discussions about dissonant music, town planning and invented languages. Riots, sex and the supernatural all have a place in this brilliant first novel. And beetles...lots of beetles. A thoroughly satisfying read.
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