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Rupert Thomson: Soft!

Thomson is one of those writers who writes a good book and then follows it with a bad book. This is one of the bad ones. When I say that it is bad, I do not mean it is a complete waste of time. It tells a fairly interesting story but, frankly, it does not begin to compare to his best books. We get three separate stories which, of course, all collide. Barker Dodds is a tough guy from Plymouth who has to leave Plymouth and goes to London. He is given the job of killing Glade Spencer (he does not know why). Glade Spencer is an artist working as a waitress to pay her way. She has a boyfriend in America and, when he invites her to a wedding in New Orleans, she spends two days in a sleep study to earn a hundred pounds to buy a dress for the wedding. Jimmy Lyle works for an American soft drink company in London, which is about to introduce its new soft drink called, you guessed it, Soft!, into Britain. A new tough American is flown into Britain to sort out the marketing campaign, which is stuttering. Jimmy comes up with a great idea to use subliminal advertising by making people think they are in a sleep experiment when, in fact, they are being sold on the idea of Soft! If you haven’t guessed the rest of the plot, maybe you should stick to romances. But what’s with the Maltesers and synchronised swimming?

Publishing history

First published 1998 by Bloomsbury