I’m sure that I don’t need to tell you lot of Rob’s ability to write a good yarn, and, even though the mainly-excellent Colony had an ending which made me want to throw things, I was still looking forward to reading this.
Incompetence is actually an entertaining whodunnit, with the mandatory incompetence required in the near future merely background to the real story, that of a string of murders across Europe. Unfortunately, the amusing premise of people being useless at their jobs comes to the boil a little too often in what, occasionally, seems like a Party Political Broadcast for UKIP. The EU is hardly perfect, but the cab-driver style rantings that blight an otherwise good book are hardly big or clever, and contrast with the really inspired moments in the book.
My particular favourites are a summing up of a mass poisoning, which is enough to provoke vomiting in sympathy in the more sensitive reader, and the transcribing of a news report about a rather unusual road incident. I was going to warn the faint of stomach about the hero’s trip to the pathologist, but frankly, if you’re liable to feeling queasy, you’re better off not picking up any book by our Rob. It’s a shame if you are, because Rob is at his funniest when describing the sort of events which make you feel dirty just reading about. Rob’s love of gore filters through to the action scenes, which are quite gripping, but suffer from Rob doing his usual thing of getting far too carried away and producing the sort of nick-of-time situation any soap would be proud of.
Still, it’s not all gore and drama. There’s an erotic scene which, judging from the intense description, haunts Rob’s dreams on a regular basis, and, thanks to the ban on judging competence for allocating jobs, there’s a scene in a lap-dancing club which is hilarious. Also, among the rent-a-rants, there’s a genuine point about the danger of bureaucracy for the average person. Overall, I’d recommend the book: just try and ignore the odd rant and enjoy the waiter with the perma-erection. No, I’m not explaining.