Keep Away From Those Ferraris
Reporter Noel Byrne is about to die. Two snipers hold him in their crosshairs as he delivers his live report from the HQ of HiberBank in central Dublin. His first problem is they will kill him if he doesn't say exactly what they want him to say. His second problem? They both want him to say different things. Keep Away from Those Ferraris is the story of a country in collapse. A vicious gang of bankers and minor celebrities is desperately trying to salvage one last pay day from the wreckage of the Irish economy. Only Byrne can help them. Only Byrne can stop them. Follow him across the boardrooms, bedrooms and bars of Dublin as he tries to stay one step ahead. And remember that when billions are at stake you can't trust anyone. Not your family, your friends or the love of your life.
Pat Fitzpatrick is the only journalist I go out of my way to read (he writes for Ireland’s Sunday Independent) and so I was keen to read this, his first novel.
The characters are written very well, although none of them are particularly likeable, even the main man, Byrnser. It is set as the Celtic Tiger was coming to an end, at a time when not everyone had accepted it was happening. It is satirical, poking fun at celebrities, people making a huge amount of money by doing nothing, reality TV, the partying thirty-somethings, the manipulation of finances and people by greedy thugs who don’t care about the consequences.
Noel Byrne is the main protagonist. He is a drug-taking, excess alcohol-drinking, womanising, partying singleton who is a minor celebrity because he is a business reporter on national TV. He sees all women as hot or not, and seems to categorise them into whether or not they are beddable – and since he's pretty depraved (he fleetingly wonders whether he is a sex maniac), if they are not too much older than him and not overweigtht then they usually are.
He hasn’t been in touch with his friend from teenage years for some time, when Johnny Ferrari (one of the Ferraris of the title) texts him out of the blue with "u will never guess what I've done now". Noel can neither guess nor resist from finding out. From there life spirals out of control with kidnapping, blackmail, fraud, extortion, death threats, violence and double-crossings. Noel doesn’t know who he can trust. But he has to find a way of keeping out of jail and making sure his parents don’t lose their life savings, while staying alive himself.
The story is set in Dublin, but you don’t need to know the city, or even Ireland, to enjoy it. There are a few Irishisms, but nothing that can’t be guessed if you don’t know the meanings. Some of the “typically Irish” attributes of some people will make you smile, whether or not you were previously aware of them, and they give depth to the characters – you don’t have to be Irish to enjoy this book.
The writing is solid – Pat Fitzpatrick is through and through “a writer”. He has a dry wit, which is the more amusing for being understated. I couldn’t pick out one line to say “Look how funny this is” – you have to read it and take it as it comes, which it does, regularly. I love the humour and the character observations.
There is slightly too much cursing in the book for my liking. It’s the Irish way and there would in reality be a lot more of it in normal speech, but it can get in the way in dialogue and I think could have been pared down a little here.
All in all, a fast-paced, exciting read that will make you smile as much as you wince.
Editorial Input & Design
The plot is well constructed and the writing excellent. I think some people will have a problem with the amount of drugs, sex and rock-and-roll, but that’s the story and it is written well. I might have suggested toning down the sexism (even if Noel is depraved, it was hard to swallow that so many of the women he met were “stunning”), but would have accepted being overruled for the sake of the story. I would have lightened up on the swearing, just for readability.
I’d say the book has been edited/copy-edited and proofread. There are a few minor proofreading misses – nothing that will pull you out of the story. There are no plot holes that I could see, and everything is neatly explained – very well crafted, in my opinion.
Cover: Professionally designed. I think it looks pretty good, although Rob Kitchin says it doesn’t work for him, and Pat himself had second thoughts about it. The title might put some book browsers off. It reflects what Noel’s da used to tell him (and as it happens, Noel’s da was right), but I think too many people will think “Cars. Boring.” and not look further (note: the story is nothing to do with cars). It works for me, though.
Internal design: I read this on a Kindle, and had no problems.
Book Clubs & Reviews
This could create a lot of discussion: the times it portrays are fresh in people’s memories as they had such a catastrophic effect for so many people – around the world as well as in Ireland. Most people will have a view on celebrity, reality TV, greed, banks and bankers. It might be a bit raw for some more sensitive souls in a book club though (with all that sex, swearing and drug-taking), and I think feminists would have plenty to say. And champagne and cocaine might not be the best of refreshments to take along. Although …
What others are saying: Amazon UK readers give it 4.9 stars (15 reviewers); Amazon US readers give it 4.2 stars (8 reviewers); Goodreads readers give it 3.89 stars (9 ratings).
Buy & Author
Kenny’s, Galway (paperback, €10.45, free worldwide shipping)
Amazon (Kindle £2.21/$3.35; paperback £6.80/$11.78)
smashwords.com (epub, mobi, etc. $2.99)
Follow the author
Website www.patfitzpatrick.ie (includes some of Pat’s articles for Ireland’s Sunday Independent)
www.eumom.ie (Pat writes some very funny articles from a father’s perspective on EU Mom)