In Boiling a Frog, investigative reporter Jack Parlabane is incarcerated, his somewhat dubious methods of uncovering the truth having finally caught up with him. On the outside, we have a Scottish Parliamentary scandal and the Catholic Church of Scotland taking full advantage to position itself as the voice of morality after the shocking revelations about certain MSPs. But is there a deeper story here? Parlabane has promised to stop looking for conspiracies, but this one might come looking for him…
I really enjoyed the first two Parlabane novels – Quite Ugly One Morning and Country of the Blind – and I had high expectations for this one too. But it takes too long to get started. From page 300 onwards, it’s becomes fast-paced and exciting and everything I expect from Brookmyre, but up to that point, it just seems like a fairly excessive amount of scene setting. Once it gets going, it’s OK, but it’s a long slog to that point.
Also, I personally don’t like the sections written in in the local dialect (or any book written in any particular dialect, for that matter) but that’s because I usually just don’t get it, and this one I struggled with. I found myself skipping some conversations that I couldn’t follow. I didn’t notice this as much in Quite Ugly One Morning or Country of the Blind, although it was certainly present. This is, however, a purely personal preference – you may not mind it.
If you’re intending to read the full Parlabane series, I would suggest doing so in the order in which they were published. Whilst they could be treated as standalone novels, there are a couple of mentions in Boiling a Frog that are linked to the previous novels, and there’s an element of this novel that I expect will impact at least the next book in the series.
I will keep reading Brookmyre and his Parlabane books (of which there are currently six in total), on the strength of the first two, and hope that this is just a little blip in what has otherwise been a pretty good series.