John Niven (2008) Kill Your Friends.

It was Old Pesky who put me onto John Niven. He said he was Scottish and very funny. Well, two years down the line, I took him at his word. First I read his thriller (by John J Niven) Cold Hands. There wasn’t that much laughs and in that intuitive way that you do I worked out quite early who the killer was. I mentally patted myself on the back. That kind of malarkey only works if you’re right. Otherwise you can hold your hands up and say it wiz a fair cop guv. Somehow the cockney always finds its way out, even though you’ve never been to cockney land. Cold Hands was a bit patchwork, but readable. I also started reading his column in the Sunday Mail.

Kill Your Friends was his debut noble and it was all the things you’d hope it would be. It is funny. The main character Steven Stelefox works in the A & R department of a major record label (as John Niven did), but work is probably the wrong way to put it. Several times he lists the different names given to cocaine. Chang seems to be the most prevalent. There’s lots of chang, porn, sex, the pursuit of money and power and an absolute contempt for the small people that had me thinking not of record executives, but of bankers. Everything goes on the expense account. Nothing is anyone’s fault. And trying to pick a hit band/record that the small people will buy is a bit like finding the right stocks and shares that will make gigantic profits. This had me thinking about the sober pronouncements by experts, such as those in last Sunday’s Observer telling us that those that work in the sharp end of finance deserve their massive bonuses or they’ll go somewhere else. Yeh? As Niven shows the only other place to go is with the small people. Let’s face it we don’t want them. It also had me thinking about an experiment by some academics testing these hi-flyers against a hen or some other animal picking stocks and shares. I tend to show a bit of bias here, but it’s good to see a hen is good for something more than laying eggs. Bankers pick the turkeys. So picking that hit record and the next big thing in banking should be left to hens. It might be cheaper. And let’s face it you’ve got breakfast on hand. Got to watch out for those foxes though. So, to get back to the book. Yep, I can see your point Old Pesky (where are you now?) this is funny, but with a serious note.