Deliciously reprehensible. Surprisingly light on its feet too; fifty pages of this stuff goes down like a shot. ‘Stuff’ is ‘kill the wife’ and it goes south most entertainingly. “Bust” isn’t anything you haven’t seen before but it won’t half make the commute fly by.
This is a soufflé, a romp, populated by cartoonishly horrible people out to do each other over in search of money and sex and whatever else they can get. We have Dillon – a.k.a. “Popeye” – a psychotic Irish lunatic and the ‘Begbie’ of this piece, coronary-waiting-to-happen businessman Max, the wily Angela (Lady Macbeth crossed with Jessica Rabbitt), ex-vet Bobby Rosa and various cops who get in the way of the dance. Everyone is potty-mouthed and out for themselves (and those that aren’t don’t last very long) and get lots of opportunities for devilment. The prose is simple, the chapters are short and the POV changes between each one, so you’re never bored. Characterisation is…hyperbolic: Dillon is such a psycho he not only hits Angela, not only takes a dump in the house he breaks into, not only kills tourists for lolz then watches cartoons but kills his own dog when its starts whining because Dillon hasn’t fed it for a week. Max’s slow motion descent into ruin recalls Robert Lindsay in Channel 4’s “G.B.H.” series and of course Angela is an angel, if you like lots of silicon which all the men do here. Everything is heightened such that you’re watching these characters and laughing with them but you’re not wholly gripped by them. There are plenty of gags (“And Zen there were none!”) and fun escalations and these edge the plot closer to classic farce in its later stages. Strangely, with Angela getting covered in blood and Dillon having dreams of a Banquo-esque Tinker he once killed it can sometimes feel as if the novel is trying to strain for some sort of Shakespearean element but then there’s another murder, Angela switches sides yet again and the plot races on.
It’s quite a skill, by the way, to deploy all of this so expertly. No, it’s not going to change the world but it’s a great little ride. However you do end up with the nagging wish that the two authors had deployed their obviously considerable skills on something really pitch black, something that got you to experience the true quagmire of the human soul. “Bust” is pure entertainment, nothing more or less and when its done this well it feels churlish to take the number of stars down from the heights of the real knock-out classics but down they must come. It’s slight but, “bejaysus”, it’s bloody good fun. “If he’d just had a thing for flat-chested women none of this would have happened.”