Sunday, April 5, 2009

Fat, Fifty & F***ed by Geoffrey McGeachin

Published: Penguin, 2004
ISBN: 978 0 14 300257 0

First line: A three-quarter moon sat low in the night sky, its pale glow illuminating the lumpy puddles of vomit dotting the deserted forecourt of Burrinjuruk's two-star Truck-On-Inn hotel/motel.

Martin Carter, manager of the only bank in the small country town of Burrinjuruk, is not having a very good day. His marriage is a farce, his stepchildren are indifferent to him, the bank is closing and he's been retrenched. To top it off, it was his 50th birthday yesterday and no one remembered. Yes, he's fat, fifty and his life's, well and truly f***ed.

On his last day at the bank, a million dollar payroll proves too tempting, and after locking up the bank staff (along with a good supply of banana cake and cheap sparkling wine), and tying up the local policeman, he goes on the run in the police 4WD.

His day starts to look up when he saves a gorgeous woman from a nasty bikie. With Faith riding a vintage motorbike and Martin tucked up in the sidecar with the bags of money, they set out on a road trip to find an old school friend of Martin's. Known as the Mad Major he lives in a fortress-like compound in far North Queensland. Along the way they encounter a bikie gang with a difference - who are "somewhere between the Hell's Angels and the Double Bay Mid-Life Crisis Motorcycle Club"; a most unusual retirement home; and a powerful and very wealthy businessman.

But unbeknownst to him, Martin has come to the attention of a mysterious and dangerous man who works for a shadowy government department. Too late, he and Faith realise they are caught up in the middle of something much bigger than armed robbery.

Fat, Fifty and F***ed has a large cast of quirky characters, all seemingly trying to 'out-quirk' each other, but there is a depth and genuineness to the main characters that makes you care about them.

Faith is my new favourite fictional librarian . What a role model! And how could I not love a character who holds my exact views, almost word for word, on coffee (has McGeachin been eavesdropping?!). McGeachin won over this librarian with lines like “'How do you know all that stuff?' ... 'it's my job.' ... 'I'm a librarian'”, and “The history books are full of our outlandish escapades, erotic adventures and deeds of derring-do”.

Fat, Fifty and F***ed is very Australian in character and language, without being over the top. The plot may stretch credibility to its limits, but that doesn't really matter as you find yourself just going along for the ride in this fast fun read.

Fat, Fifty and F***ed is McGeachin's first novel, and he has followed this with a series featuring special agent Alby Murdoch. I have a couple of these in my TBR pile and look forward to reading them. More information can be found at McGeachin's website.

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