Out now the debut novel by Christopher I King; motorbikes, ducks & crispy sweet apples.

motorbikes, ducks and crispy sweet apples a review by Bluechrome Publishing

I was really interested to get to read a pre-release version of Christopher King's “motorbikes, ducks & crispy sweet apples”. What I hadn't figured on though, was quite how much I was going to like the book, especially given how he had described it to me (which I couldn't write on a family-oriented site, such as this. Ahem.)

But to the book...

Jimmy Gallagher, is a man who has not had a straightforward life. His wife gone, his career as a successful banker in tatters, and a subsequent spell as a HGV driver falling to pieces before he finds his perfect job As far as Jimmy is coaction in the traditional sense, but still has you turning the pages at an alarming rate. Instead we hear Jimmy's story, and despite the fact that he is a grouchy sod nearly all of the time, think of the 'Miserable Old Git' programmes you had to sit through over Christmas, you can't help but like him, and the humour that infects every sentence in the book is at times like a straight faced stand-up routine. And believe me, it is a very funny book, and King's humour is perfectly timed. Even in the darkest parts of Jimmy's tale you find yourself laughing aloud, as he follows a path he is fully aware will lead him to further distress without really understanding why he is doing so.

Not that this is a comedy; “motorbikes, ducks & crispy sweet apples” is at its core a poignant and very humanncerned, this isn’t the end of the world, but it leaves him lonely and that is where his troubles really begin to take shape. Jimmy, being a pragmatic geezer frequents a dating site and we join him as he is setting off to meet a friend he makes there, Katrina, and she is definitely not simple.

For a start she is married, lives in the States and has a homicidal maniac for a husband. Worse, Jimmy has never flown and in his life nothing is ever as easy as you would expect.

And that is what makes the book so good. Jimmy, despite every best effort and intention just can't seem to get things straight, and the book follows him all the way. And it is the character, attitudes and utter tortured misery of Jimmy that makes the book so compelling, for in truth, it is a thriller where for the first two thirds of the book there is very little  story of loneliness and how we all end-up doing things without really knowing why. Jimmy is a victim of circumstance and (seemingly) everybody else’s wish and whim, and King has a sharp eye when it comes to noticing life and people’s ridiculous habits and ways, laying them before you without comment so that you are constantly recognising the absurdities for yourself (or not, as the case may be).

For a debut novel, “motorbikes, ducks & crispy sweet apples” takes a fresh approach to a genre that at times can be quite tired, and King for all of his reluctance has created in Jimmy Gallagher an excellent anti-hero that many well known authors would die for, given a drop of King's humility. I for one will be looking forward to his next book (so Deej, give your bloke a kick and tell him to get on with it), and I get the feeling that once the book is out and about, I won't be the only one.

 motorbikes, ducks and crispy sweet apples a review by novelist Joe Stein

"Christopher I King’s debut novel is quirky, interesting and eminently readable.

The prologue to the story of Jimmy Gallagher grabs hold of you and it threatens to be a white knuckle paced ride. And then the author backtracks.

And you realise that this is not so much a thriller in the conventional term, but more a story about a character, a man caught up in a situation partly of his own making, but mainly out of his control and as we learn what has brought him to this position, an odd thing happens, something which is rare in thriller-land. We start to care what happens to this man. Jimmy is us. Maybe doing things we wouldn’t do, but he could be anyone of us. A basically decent guy, trying to do his best and checked at many, if not all turns, by fate, human nature and the vagaries of life.

And sometimes he wins, as in the quick thinking comment to shut up the cab driver on the way to Gatwick airport, and sometimes he loses (witness the ‘one sock’ episode). Just like we do.

It’s rare to find really likeable characters in modern thriller fiction, mostly they are flawed heroes, or people with a manufactured ‘past’. Where ‘Motorbikes, Ducks and Crispy Sweet Apples’ scores, is in having an ‘everyman’ hero, struggling with the day to day living as we all do and being both instantly recognisable and likeable at the same time. And when the living turns out to be not so day to day, when the situation starts to spiral out of control, the character retains his credibility, he still tries to do the right thing.

That and King’s excellent recognition of the absurdities of life, make this a trip to the States to remember for the reader as well as for Jimmy Gallagher. I was genuinely caught up with the character and the story. King has an ear for dialogue and the rare ability to see and transcribe the idiocies of general living that we all know and try to avoid mentioning, even, or especially, when we’re caught out by them.

The comic elements are clear and at times laugh out loud, but in many ways this is a serious story as well, with characters who are lonely and sometimes desperate. And there is nothing funny about the final situation.

A welcome new voice, then, and more importantly, a different and distinctive one.

And yes, Mr. King, I do want to know what happens next!"

 Joe Stein

Note: This review refers to a pre-publication electronic version of the book.

"The book is absolutely amazing". (Jaimeson Wolf) Read the full review here.