I received an advanced review copy of this book for free from the publisher via NetGalley. This did not affect my opinion of the book in any way.
Publisher: Gallery UK
Published: January 2023
My name is Gary. I’m a thirty-year-old legal assistant with a firm of solicitors in London. To describe me as anonymous would be unfair but to notice me other than in passing would be a rarity. I did make a good connection with a girl, but that blew up in my face and smacked my arse with a fish slice.
Gary Thorn goes for a pint with a work acquaintance called Brendan. When Brendan leaves early, Gary meets a girl in the pub. He doesn’t catch her name, but falls for her anyway. When she suddenly disappears without saying goodbye, all Gary has to remember her by is the book she was reading: The Satsuma Complex. But when Brendan goes missing, Gary needs to track down the girl he now calls Satsuma to get some answers.
And so begins Gary’s quest, through the estates and pie shops of South London, to finally bring some love and excitement into his unremarkable life…
I love a good mystery (even though I don’t read that many anymore), and even more so if any humour is promised so The Satsuma Complex sounded like just the book for me. I received a sampler from NetGalley (although I hadn’t immediately realised it wasn’t the full copy) and finished listening to it on audiobook on Storytel.
I’m not too familiar with Bob Mortimer and his brand of humour, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect from this, but I was in the mood for a light read and to switch it up a little after lots of fantasy books. Unfortunately, this didn’t really meet my expectations.
The premise was quite good and I liked the mystery aspect of it, though I won’t go into any details to avoid spoilers. I tend to like stories where we don’t really know which characters we can trust, and there was plenty of that going on here. However, for the most part, the characters just felt flat. I definitely appreciated the attempt at introducing a wide and varied cast, and there certainly were some colourful characters in there, but to me, they all felt very one-dimensional and I never actually started caring about any of them, which meant the stakes were very low whenever any amount of danger was involved.
I found the main character to be very annoying and… well, just not funny. I did like his relationship with his neighbour Grace and her dog, which I found wholesome and sweet, but he didn’t really have much else going for him. I found it very hard to get through the book and was bored for the most part. I really only finished it because it wasn’t overly long and I wanted to see if it would improve when everything wrapped up. The ending itself was good, but it didn’t really make up for the rest.
This is by no means a bad book; if anything, I found it fairly average, just like Gary: not anonymous, but not memorable either. It probably just wasn’t my kind of humour and others may like it a lot more, but this one just wasn’t for me.