The Meal of Fortune by Philip Brady – Book Review
The Meal of Fortune by Philip Brady – Book Review
The Meal of Fortune
Author – Philip Brady
Publisher – Unbound Digital
Pages – 384
Released – 14th November 2017
ISBN-13 – 978-1911586401
Format – ebook, paperback
Reviewer – Abby
Rating – 4 Stars
I received a free copy of this book
Failing celebrity agent Dermot Jack thinks his luck might have turned when a mysterious Russian oligarch hires him to represent his pop star daughter. Disaffected MI5 officer Anna Preston is just as happy to be handed the chance to resurrect her own career. Little do they know that their paths are about to cross again after seventeen years as they’re thrown together in a desperate attempt to lure a notorious arms dealer into a highly unusual trap.
Hard enough without having to deal with the lecherous celebrity chef trying to save his daytime TV career or the diminutive mafia enforcer who definitely has his own agenda. Then there’s the very impatient loan shark who ‘just wants his money back’. And Anna’s bosses are hardly playing it straight either. But one thing’s for sure. There’ll be winners and losers when the Meal of Fortune finally stops spinning.
Oh, and another thing, Anna and Dermot are absolutely not about to fall in love again. That’s never going to happen, OK?
Mix together 1 part satire, 1 part crime and a dash of Europop, and you have whipped up the perfect recipe for The Meal of Fortune.
1 part satire: Meet Dermot Jack. He’s a rather miserable agent to the (one) star, daytime ‘celebrity’ TV chef, Marcus Diesel (great name!), presenter of what I can only describe as a “Ready Steady Cook” and “The Chase” mash-up, “The Meal of Fortune”. Nothing seems to be going his way. He’s divorced, in debt, owing the local loan shark a tasty sum of money, and it doesn’t seem like Marcus is particularly thrilled with Dermot’s management of his career. To top it off, his ex-wife has moved on, with their daughter, to live with a wealthy cheesemonger in a castle hundreds of miles away in Scotland.
So, when Yegor Koslov (“Jesus, that accent; like the first baddie to die in a low-rent spy movie”) knocks on Dermot’s door one day with a request to meet with Oleg Bukin, his employer and huge Marcus Diesel fan, he’s got nothing to lose by going…
1 part crime: Early on, we also meet Anna, who is introduced to us by wrestling with a thieving commuter on the tube, unaware that this has all taken place right in front of her uptight boss, Kate. Similar to Dermot, Anna’s disillusioned about her career. Except she’s not a celebrity agent. She is an MI5 agent, following in her late father’s footsteps, although it turns out that they are big shoes to fill and, so far, she’s not been impressing her superiors. That’s until she’s assigned to a case to see what’s going on with Russian billionaire and his connections to a certain Dermot Jack…
Anna’s eager to impress. But when she sees Dermot’s photo in the file, the whole room starts to spin, just like the wheel of fortune. She knows him. And if her bosses know that she knows him, it could be game over for her career.
A dash of Europop: Meanwhile, it turns out that Dermot has been summoned by Oleg to help make his daughter a singing sensation. After all, it turns out that Dermot was a member of a boy band back in the 90s.
Eventually, Anna and Dermot meet, aware of the fact they both know each other. In fact, it turns out that Anna had a musical career of her own, with a lead part in her school’s production back when she was sixteen, opposite our very own Dermot. Finding out why Dermot has been summoned by Oleg, a plan for Oleg’s daughter to enter as the Russian Eurovision contestant is hatched, as a cover up for catching the Russian baddies… but what is Oleg really doing in the UK? And what could possibly go wrong?
The Meal of Fortune is a funny, pacey and thrilling read. Brady’s characters are a joy to follow; each taking a rather stereotypical trait, then transforming into something totally unexpected. Dermot is the lousy celebrity agent-turned-hero, Anna is the MI5 agent with a tough exterior, but deeply emotional and anxious to please others. Oleg is the archetypal Russian villain, with a bizarre penchant for English daytime television. The settings are equally unexpected. One minute we’re in a shootout in the middle of a deserted forest, the next we’re backstage at the Eurovision song contest. The fun poked at celebrity culture, reality TV and pop stardom provides an enjoyable contrast to the world of crime that Dermot and Anna find themselves in.
Overall, if you’re looking for a read that, like its protagonist long after his own celebrity heyday, doesn’t take itself too seriously, or, if you want to read a crime novel but don’t feel you can take all the drama and suspense, I definitely recommend The Meal of Fortune for its thrilling storyline with a good measure of light relief.
Reviewed by Abby
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About the Author
Phil was first inspired to write when he read Lord of The Rings as a child. Back then the ambition was to create a whole fantasy world with dragons and sword fights but, as George RR Martin seems to have cornered that market, he now writes comedy thrillers set in the (almost) real world instead.
He is somewhat obsessed with the public and media’s obsession with celebrity, which forms the backdrop to his books. These also tend to feature spies, gangsters, vicious (if feckless) criminals, washed-up private detectives and daytime TV presenters.
The Meal of Fortune is the third novel he has completed but he is as yet unpublished. The first will stay forever in a locked draw in darkened room with a cool wet flannel over its face. The second, the story of a revenge agency may see the light of day once he has finished his current trilogy.
Phil lives in London with his wife and children and works in marketing. His main rule in life is to never let tomato ketchup touch any food that is green. He hasn’t yet worked out any deep meaning behind this and suspects it is not the soundest of principles by which to live your life by. Although it’s better than quite a few he’s come across down the years. Best not to get him started on that one though.