How to Forget by Marius Brill

DATE FINISHED: August 6th, 2012 

RATED: *** (3.5)

SYNOPSIS:  Mr Magicov makes a living by entertaining the old folks of Christchurch after a children’s party once went drastically awry and irrevocably altered his career path. Kate Minola, a magician’s daughter, is a career confidence trickster on the run from the FBI. When their paths unexpectedly cross, Kate promises Peter (Magicov) revenge on his own nemesis, and a share of a million pounds – but can he really trust a woman who has spent her life specialising in the long con?

THOUGHTS:  This book would make a great movie, with its quick-witted characters and parallel storylines which neatly converge halfway through then dive headlong into a police chase with the ‘heroes’ always one step ahead. I was more interested in the first half where the characters were introduced and developed, and was intrigued to see how Dr. Tavasligh’s experiments with memory would fit in. As the story progressed it all became more and more action-film guessable: there were no new plot twists to uncover, just the extrapolation & denouement of those already introduced, alongside the will-she-won’t-she element of whether or not Kate will cheat Peter of his revenge and/or cash and/or love.

I found Brill’s writing, wit and imagery more entertaining at the beginning: “The house itself, a post-war, post-aesthetic, postbox pile of red brick, straight lines, enormous picture windows and exposed gutters, was not only detached, it was positively aloof.”  As the action and pace increased, Brill spent less time on constructing playful and vivid bits of imagery and more time on one-liners and witty wisecracks to keep his story moving, which was less to my taste (and did begin to grate a little).

From the jacket blurb, I expected to read more about Dr. Tavasligh’s memory experiments but this turned out to be a classic example of misdirection and in the end, Tavasligh was relegated to footnotes in the main story of Peter and Kate which was a true action-adventure romp with the obligatory romantic interest. It includes all the essential ingredients from the no-nonsense, beautiful, untrustworthy heroine, to the ‘evil baddie’ of Titus Black (who yearns to be capable of mind-control) to the (somewhat stereotyped) ‘light relief’ of Black’s ham-fisted-yet-eloquent henchmen. The odd cliche aside, this is an enjoyable diversion, which kept me just interested enough to reach the end.  It wasn’t what I had initially expected, and when I realised that, I still  hoped for an extra twist or an extra ‘something’; but at the end of the day it was simply a good bit of entertainment that didn’t really stand out as much as it had the potential to.

FOLLOWING ON:  I imagine this would appeal to fans of (Colin) Bateman in terms of humour, pace and style.  There is also trace of Christopher Brookmyre’s Attack of the Unsinkable Rubber Ducks.  The elements of magician and memory reminded me in some ways of War Crimes for the Home by Liz Jensen, where they turn out to play a larger part in the plotline than in How to Forget… 

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2 responses to “How to Forget by Marius Brill

  1. Marius Brill August 9, 2012 at 10:09 pm

    Dear Tanglecrafts – just wanted to thank you for this review,the Amazon posting,and your very neat summary. Something I always struggle with when people ask me what How To Forget is about. I agree the first half was more what I intended at heart, but as things developed I was haunted by my urge for action and narrative drive so, yes, there is a noticeable shift in gear. But then, I quite enjoy novels that surprise me in their changes of pace and attitude. If you liked the first half you may well really enjoy my first novel Making Love – A Conspiracy of the Heart (Doubleday) available for a single penny from Amazon (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Making-Love-Conspiracy-The-Heart/dp/0552771317/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1344545962&sr=8-2)
    Far deeper in thought – but there’s also a fair swathe of action too. I guess I can’t escape it. With much thanks.
    Marius Brill

    • tanglecrafts August 10, 2012 at 6:48 am

      Thank you so much for taking the time to comment on my review (I’m amazed that you stumbled upon it)! It’s very interesting to hear how the story developed from your original plan during the writing – and I agree, a novel which takes you by surprise is (in general) definitely not a bad thing! My husband will be reading How to Forget next, and I think he will like it a lot. In the meantime, I will definitely splash out that penny at Amazon for a copy of Making Love to read in the near future. Thank you again! – Su.

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