LOOSE LIPS COST LIVES.
It’s 1986, and Adam Cave, lead singer of the pop sensation Loose Lips, is struggling to stay in the closet, especially as his group is going through a messy split, and media speculation about the reasons behind it are high.
Joe Stone is assigned to Adam as a runner for the behind-the-scenes, warts and all expose of the recording of the bands last album, and an unlikely friendship begins to form.
But when Adam’s manager, Jack Eddy, is found dead in Adam’s hotel room, in what looks like a sex game gone wrong, Joe turns to his flatmate, Russell, to help him clear the pop star’s name, and keep his secret.
Russell, meanwhile, has a secret of his own. He’s just been for a test, the results of which may change his life forever.
Ahhhh, you know that feeling when you slip into your comfiest pants after a long ass day trussed up in jeans or whatever you chose to wear that day, and that momentous moment of “aaaaahhhhhhhhhhhh” comes over you? You know that feeling, right? Well that’s the feeling I get when I read the next instalment of a book series that I have grown to truly love. It happens with Derek Farrell’s Danny Bird series, Armistead Maupin’s Tales Of The City (before it ended….whhhhyyyyyy, Armistead?😭); that moment when you are reunited with the characters you’ve come to know, meet new ones, and fear for all of their safety and futures. TS Hunter’s Soho Noir series may only be three books old so far (with three more to come before Xmas), but they are already amongst my very favourites. If you want to know what I thought about books one and two then click on them thar links below:
So, what did I think of Careless Whisper then? Well, I think you can probably guess can’t you?
Yes, that’s correct.
I hated it.
It’s a truly terrible, terrible book. I struggled to find a single word, sentence or paragraph to like. Actually, I couldn’t even find a single letter that I enjoyed. Even the punctuation sucked; I don’t think I’ve ever come across such smug commas in all my days. I could imagine that they were all, “ooh, look at me, pausing, your, enjoyment, of, reading, this, book,,,,,,,,,,,,,,”. Little f….
Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha*cough*hahahahahahahahahahahahahahah*cough*hahahahahah…… oh, my sides…. hahahahahahah…..
Do you see what I was doing there? Did you see? Yes, that’s right, I was pulling your collective legs. Oh, haha, that was quite the wheeze wasn’t it? Did you fall for it? Hello? Erm, helloooooooooo?
Oh. Um, well, this is awkward. It would seem that everyone has buggered off. Seriously, did no one get the joke? I mean, surely the bit about the commas gave it away? Like, who takes offence at commas?
*sigh* so, what do I do now then? This is most irregular.
*twiddles thumbs* Ummm…. ooh, I have never noticed this key on my keyboard before, I wonder what it does?
Is that it? What the hell is that symbol all about? It’s like I’ve had a knock on the head and now have double vision *shakes head* Nope, it still looks like a double ‘S’. That’s just silly. You’re a silly key ‘§’ key. Pfft.
*peeps behind screen* nope, still no one here.
What’s this Photo Booth thing all about?
“We come in peace. Please may we probe you!” Yes, yes you may.
Looooool, hey this red rather suits me, I think. Maybe it’s time for a change….?
Can anyone hear me out there? hello? Helloooooooo? Nope, still nothing.
WOAAAHH! That’s enough of that! Eww, I feel quite dizzy and sick now. My neck is going to be so sore in the morning.
*le sigh* Well, some review this is turning out to be, huh? Just me myself and I. Just little, beardy me, all on my ownsome, with no one to tell about how great Careless Whisper actually is.
I was all geared up and ready to tell everyone how this is possibly the best book in the series so far. How Toby takes his characters to the very edge in this one, how the emotional gut punches are real and how I was left with something stuck in my eye at the end.
Man, now who am I going to tell that to? Me and my stupid ideas *face palm emoji*
Does anyone actually care now that we are once again reunited with our intrepid hero and ace amateur sleuth Joe Stone? How joe is getting over a break-up and is now working for a TV production company as a runner and getting along very nicely, most likely hoping that no one else drops dead via nefarious means anywhere near him after the traumas of the last two books. Ha, good luck with that Joe.
Oh, and I was going to tell you all about how, as with the rest of this series so far, Toby squeezes in so much story and drama, emotion and mystery into the 111 or so pages it beggars belief. We are even introduced to new characters, some of whom I hope we see again in the future.
Like, for instance, how we have PJ Davis, Joe’s new boss at the production company. PJ is a dick. Oh he seems nice enough, but after the death of [spoiler or read the blurb if you want to know] happens his true nature and intentions come out. PJ – or Paul James, to give him his full moniker Veronica – is described as “short, round and balding, he reminded Russell of a poor man’s Danny DeVito – his Hawaiian shirts seemed to get louder every time […]“
Since I’m talking to myself then I may as well talk about Adam Cave, lead singer and the real talent behind Loose Lips, the latest pop sensation to tantalise the charts and make the teenies of the time weak at the knees. Loose Lips are a lot like Bros, but in negative, with the twins, Luke and Liam Millard, the least popular, and Adam stealing all the limelight. Adam is a troubled young man with secrets he’s trying to hide but is growing tired of having to do so. The problem is that in this line of work your life really isn’t your own and his manager, Jack Eddy, is determined for him to finish their new album before making any decisions that may adversely affect the band’s future. The tensions are rising and reaching breaking point. Loose Lips are on the verge of breaking up and PJ is sensing TV gold if he manages to capture it all for his new fly-on-the-wall Channel 4 series ‘Behind The Headlines‘.
Ah, is there even any point in me telling you about another new character Harry Palin? Harry is the boss of the forensic team and the one true ally that Russell Dixon (ex detective and Joe’s close friend, co-sleuth, and landlord) has in the force after being forced out by his arch nemesis, and all round homophobic and mega bigoted arse biscuit, Detective Simon Skinner. Ooooh, I really hate Simon Skinner. What an utter crusty bum cheek. If I had half a mind to spare I certainly give him half of it to tell him, er, to say what a, um… if I had half a mind to say he has a mind to tell me what a… no… wait… If my mind was half the mind his was then I would take half and give it back… oh sod it, you get the idea. Only you don’t because I’m talking to myself here, aren’t I? Yes, yes I am. But Harry is a friend to Russell when he needs it and I hope we see him again in the future.
Careless Whisper also introduces us to Lydia, “[…] a short, wiry red-haired Irish woman, with an infectious grin and a compelling turn of phrase.”, a nurse in the hospital where [spoiler] ends up after a nasty run in with the oh-so-understanding police. She is a force to be reckoned with and proves herself invaluable when the need arises. She is another character I would love to see pop up again.
And, possibly most importantly of all for one certain character, there’s Freddie Gillespie, but, even though no one is reading this, I’m leaving him a mystery for you to discover.
You see, if you were still reading this that is, even in its scant page count, Careless Whisper manages to introduce us to millions more new characters alongside our returning regulars – Joe, Russell, Red Lion landlord Ron, Patty Cakes aka Paul and the aforementioned Simon *spit* Skinner *spits again* – in such a way as to make you feel you already know who they are. That Toby S Hunter, he’s good, I’ll give him that.
Okay, so I’ve not told you about some of the new and returning characters, so what else can I not tell you about?
Well, I can definitely not tell you about the mid 1980s setting. We have moved on into 1986 now. Not a lot has changed really; the AIDS epidemic is still in full flow – as is the media and public paranoia surrounding it – and in Careless Whisper this is put fully front and centre. I could say more as there is no one reading this to complain about spoilers, but out of courtesy to myself I shall refrain from saying any more. Old habits and all that.
Being a child of the 70s/80s myself there are so many things in these books that stir the old nostalgia glands. One name in one line in particular got the old hackles up: Mary Whitehouse.
Now, many of you, if you were reading this of course, which you’re not because you all buggered off because none of you can take a joke, jeez, are probably thinking who or what in the name of Toby’s nostril hair is a Mary Whitehouse? Well, since you didn’t ask, she was a pain in the neck, arse, ankle, groin and earlobe of every liberal or sensible thinking person throughout the 1960s, 70s and 80s. She was someone who hated and opposed everything and anything that went against her strict Christian views. She formed the National Viewers and Listeners Association a group that wielded a surprising amount of power and influence back then, waging war against anyone who even dared to air, broadcast, publish or even speak anything that was deemed damaging to public moral standards. Of course that also meant that she had it in for homosexuality. Described thusly by her as “[being] caused by abnormal parental sex during pregnancy or just after.” and saying that “being gay was like having acne: Psychiatric literature proves that 60 per cent of homosexuals who go for treatment get completely cured“. Oh, she was delightful, no? I mean, just look at her little face:
Yeah, so, Mary Whitehouse was a joy.
Another, far more pleasant, nostalgia gland secretion was over the mention of Smash Hits magazine. Smash Hits was the must have magazine for pop aficionados throughout the 1980s (well, it was if you liked pop, which I didn’t, but I always bought it when Queen were in it, which wasn’t all that often. I still have the lyrics to their songs that I cut out safe in a box. I later discovered Kerrang! which was much more up my street). Here’s a wee selection of covers from 1986.
But no one cares about all of that because I’m still talking to myself here. I may as well wrap this up now and do something more useful with my time, like plait my leg hair or put a pot on to boil because I have heard that it won’t boil if one watches it, so, imma gonna test that theory out.
Oh, and seeing as we still have no author photo of the elusive Mr Hunter, and he won’t be reading this anyway because he probably slammed his laptop shut/threw his phone out the window/stormed off in a hissy fit and stomped his feet at the top of this review like everyone else who cannot take a joke, jeez, here is a Clark Gable Toby Jug. I imagine that our Toby is just as dashing, but I guess we’ll never know.
Okay, so there we have it, for what it’s worth, my review of Careless Whisper. I really shouldn’t try to be fun…
Wait, what’s this? What’s going on? Hold on a cotton picking second….
Oh, you bunch of bastards.
Don’t tell me you were there all along? So you watched me squirm and wriggle in embarrassment all the way through this guffery? Oh, well played Beardy Blog fans, well played. The egg is well and truly over my face. Oh, you guys, you are the best.
So I hope that you managed to get from all of that up there how much I truly loved this book? How I think that it is the best in the series so far, packing a real emotional punch, and, if this is any indicator, the remaining three books in this series – Crazy For You, Killer Queen and Small Town Boy – will be absolute stonkers and soon to be classics? And how that with each book Toby continues to add layer after layer, and draw deeper and deeper, his ever growing cast of characters?
You did? Oh I am so pleased. So this wasn’t a total waste of time then. I was beginning to think that it may have been and that just would not have done, would not have done at all. I tell you what, take your cute little collective bottoms off to the Red Dog Press website and treat yourself to all three of the books so far. Go on, at only abound 125 pages each you’ll have yourselves a lovely little cosy afternoons reading right there. You’ll thank me later (I will accept thanks in the form of hugs, squeezy hugs and also squelchy hugs). And tell your friends! They can all jump aboard the Soho Noir Choo-Choo Train; next stop? Crazy For You town ❤️
Oh, and that watched pot did boil. Huh.
As always, don’t forget to check out all the other bloggers on the tour. There are some truly great ones here and they are all well worth your time. After all you don’t just want to take my word for it 😘