A Mediocre Man by A K Hill
|A Mediocre Man by A K Hill|
|Category: General Fiction|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: A thought-provoking novella with a gentle humour, great story and good characters. It's slightly let down by the editing. A K Hill popped into Bookbag Towers to chat to us.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 94||Date: August 2012|
|Publisher: A K Hill|
|External links: Author's website|
Francis James Humbleton, the 'mediocre man' of the title is quiet and reserved, hardworking and a man of such regular habits that his neighbours can set their clocks by his departure to work each morning. His life was unassuming, unnoticed by all but a very few and his death only came to light because his employers knew that something must be wrong when he didn't return to work after the Christmas break. Mr Humbleton had been murdered, at precisely (what else could it be?) 3am in what looked to be a burglary gone wrong. Only Mr Humbleton had nothing that was worth stealing and it's down to Detective Inspector Johnson and Detective Constable Smith to investigate his life as well as his death.
You might have the impression that this is going to be a dreary story from what I've told you but the first thing you'll notice is a gentle humour of the type which makes you smile - and read again for pleasure. Mr Humbleton is the Chief Filing Clerk in a Bank but makes little of the title because he's the only person in the department. The Board members at the Bank - Steele, Robb and Pocket Plc - had thought of installing a computerised system so that they could make economies by retiring Mr Humbleton, but one look at his ferociously efficient systems convinced them that it would be a foolish move - so they awarded themselves a large bonus in respect of the savings they made by not installing the computer system.
The police are under pressure to solve the crime, but the pressure comes not from the public but from the fact that the newspapers are demonising Mr Humbleton. The simple acts of kindness which made up the most part of his asexual, ordered life are twisted. Support given to a victim of domestic violence makes him into a home-breaking adulterer. Giving an old lady confidence to go to church means that he preyed on the elderly and helping a boy who was on the slippery slope into criminality make him a kiddy f... - well, I don't need to spell it out, do I? No - the pressure to solve these crimes comes from Johnson's superiors.
It's a tale of our times. It's not about the Banking crisis because work on the book began before that crisis was even a twinkle in the eye of a hedge-fund manager. But it does presage much of what has troubled us over the last few years. We have the press which we deserve because we buy and read the inaccuracies they publish ('lies' is such a harsh word, you know) and then we have a public enquiry to establish how the free press we've fought for can be restricted. It's a book to make you think about our responsibilities and I loved the story. I loved the characters and I loved the fact that - at the end - there is the hint of redemption for us all.
I do, though, have a problem with the book. AK Hill can write but he has been let down by his proofreader as there are far too many grammatical errors and typos to overlook and unfortunately each one pulls you out of a story you're enjoying. If these were corrected you could add at least half a star to my rating.
I'd like to thank the author for sending a copy to the Bookbag.
If this book appeals then we think that you might also enjoy The Betrayal of Trust: A Simon Serrailler Novel by Susan Hill.
You can read more book reviews or buy A Mediocre Man by A K Hill at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy A Mediocre Man by A K Hill at Amazon.com.
A K Hill was kind enough to be interviewed by Bookbag.
You can read more about A K Hill here.
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