Saturday, 14 February 2015

French Fries and Flame throwers by Glen Johnson



Totally love the fact that GJ does NOT apologise for being an English author and uses all the correct spellings!

He is the master of short, sharp stories and excels at it in this set. Each of the stories are based around residents in a block of flats, GJ cleverly links them all but you can read each one individually, but I challenge you just to read one and not be drawn into finishing the entire set.

GJ has pulled a master stroke in managing to link every single story to each other, places, times, people, relevant news items.

Really enjoyed all the prologue “chats”


The Insomniac:
Oh dear, poor obese Trevor is so tired keeping up with demand in his chip shop that he makes a fatal error, and then his efforts to make good don’t go as planned.

GJ manages to do the inner dialogue perfectly giving a great “view” of the British chippy on a Friday night with all its bawdy customers and informs us of how Trevor feels about life, family, love and everything really!

Then his desire for late night french fries (chips) occurs, add in a little slip and an incident involving some cling film, mix in some mud and finally a twig!

I did not know whether to laugh or cry at the ending, it was so beautifully thought out and executed, this author just blows me away.


The Taxidermist:
Fred has a disturbingly disgusting desire to start practising on his neighbours cats. Thankfully they decide to not be cooperative.

I despise all animal cruelty, even in fictional stories, it was fairly obvious where this story was going but as I follow this author on FB I note that he too is an animal lover and trusted him with my emotions. I was not disappointed, although the story made me feel glad in one way it still irked my heart.

The horror is slow and painful to endure and made me squirm but ultimately it was the gore that made me cheer.


The Butcher:
GJ does cliché and stereo type so well its wonderfully kitsch!

Anton the Russian has been up to naughty things and tension is high in the preparation room but when Anton is given a promotion he refuses all bloody hell reigns down, how do you say no to a drug baron?

GJ does well to make you like what should be an unlikable man, then feel his pain at his demise, in a rather unique fashion.


The Florist:
Elena is just trying to make her orchids grow,  when it all goes a bit wrong.

GJ pays such attention to detail I could not help but be drawn into the story. The way he interconnects the characters is charmed, having learnt about Jimmy in The Insomniac and the “sister” we now meet her in all her weird glory.  

Elena and her son Jimmy have been busy installing a watering system but she has added a special fertilising ingredient she found in the Sky High shop.

As she gets a good dousing of the newly enhanced misting spray strangeness ensures – riveting reading all the way to the crescendo.


The Lovers:
Nalin and Isaac seem to have a perfect life until something random happens to change things for them.

Having already met the characters I felt like I slipped into their lives unwatched and with the brilliantly researched and factual back history of Nalin’s life I was engrossed, and sad at the world’s history.

During some amazingly erotic love making something awful (and funny) happens and I was left heartbroken at the ending.


The Animal Lover:
Gertrude can’t fit out her apartment door but her animals keep her company.

Whilst I love animals the description of the smell in her flat and what the various animals did was enough to make me gag! Over all her cruelty was far worse than Fred the Taxidermists. The ever so accurate portrayal of obesity was both sickening and fascinating.

As Gertrude teeters on the edge of a heart attack on her trek around her flat to find her inhaler I found myself breath holding and waiting for the inevitable.  Her final demise was very slap stick in what appears to be GJ signature way of killing people off, most amusing.


The Agoraphobic:
Gordon is the building manager with a nice money making side-line involving hidden cameras, so all the goings on are being watched, recorded and broadcast.

It is in fact his best night ever with all his regularly voyeurs logging on to watch the mayhem going on in the building, and the revolting Gordon is just watching it all with £ signs dancing in his eyes.

It was a brilliant way to catch up on what was happening in each flat from another perspective, the time line alone was magnificent in its perfection. In a few sentences GJ summed up the night of horror.

When he gets a knock on the door the person on the other side is not who he expected.

The Foreigner:
GJ launches from one dead body to another, and does it with superb style.

Samira is a covert spy and assassin, but she also has a complex and sad past, however now is the time she must make a quick escape as Gordon’s little internet business has alerted authorities to her.

GJ could easily write thrillers as he clearly has all the knowledge and skill to lead readers down a dark path of intrigue then set them on fire with the truth.

Another amazing little snippet of the bigger story, another sad ending but with that little hint of a giggle.


The Geek:
Poor schoolboy Benedict is often bullied and left alone by his hard working (and playing) mother, but he has been working hard on his school project and he has a dream.

I loved the way GJ interjects all these little comments that just speed you make to other scenes, this would make a brilliant Tarantino style film.


In the epilogue GJ really rounded up the horror and giggles, tying up every loose end and giving an incredible to ride to his readers.