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Jello Salad
Nicholas Blincoe

Jello Salad
Nicholas Blincoe
Serpent’s Tail
London 1997

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Everyone’s heading for the opening night of ‘La George’ restaurant in Soho. The Ingredients: sassy Susan Ball, ex-stripper and wife of gangster Frank ‘Ballistic’ Ball is fed up with the good life in Marbella – drunken ex-pat villains in mock-Olde English pubs. Frank is waiting for his share in an old bullion heist – ‘cept he’s shot the other five in the meantime. He pursues his errant wife across the Channel whilst she teams up with Frank’s accountant (George of ‘La George’), ex-ballroom dancer and owner of half of Soho. A one-time TV chef has been hired to run the kitchen; he is a full-time pervert who beds his bestfriends’ mothers. Combine at this point with the maitre d’: a skinhead fraudster who has spent the last two years frying his brains in Thailand, experimenting in Buddhism and developing his philosophy on the cataclasmic effects of global wheat-eating. Finally, throw in a ‘self-styled, gun-slinging ‘natural born gangsta’ and season everything liberally with cocaine. The leading players converge on Soho for the opening bash and their paths fatally dovetail in a drug-fugged mayhem.

Nicholas Blincoe’s first novel, Acid Casuals, was published to much critical acclaim, and this, his second, does not disappoint. Although complex the plot is compulsive from beginning to end, and suffused throughout with hilarious moments. The characters are flawed individuals (in some cases downright homicidal maniacs), all pretty weird but very addictive. Frank’s sleazy and spineless sidekick, Cardiff, is a particularly pathetic figure who meets a suitably gutless end. The language is powerful, blackly humorous and ultra-trendy. There is a grotesque but funny scene where a body – found melted to the restaurant hotplate – is disposed of by nailing it to the floor of a bus amidst a shoot-out outside a south London nightclub. It starts as an Irvine Welsh-style drugs fest but then the violence moves up a gear, culminating in a grossly macabre disembowelling scene that surpasses even Tarantino in its pure depravity. The author exhibits a vivid imagination and an obvious delight in exploring the seamier side of life. The end product is a heady cocktail of degradation – definitely not one for the faint- hearted.

Reviewed by Liz Rowlinson


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