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Amazon reviews: 5.0 out of 5 stars Its fun to flirt

This review is from: Flirting at the Funeral (Cillian Press, 2012)

I read the second of Chris Keil’s books, Liminal and found the story much more engrossing when the action switched from Wales to Greece. It is the same with his third book, Flirting at the Funeral, where the story picks up pace as soon as the action moves to the warm, scented air of the Algarve and the luxurious setting of the sinister Dr Arno Bendt’s spa cum compound. The good news is that in Flirting almost all the action takes place in Portugal. The plot lines are many layered; the central conceit around which the action revolves is a film being made by the heroine’s enchanting daughter about the revolution, which took place nearly 40 years earlier. It sounds complicated but the story is easy to follow perhaps because the author is so at home with both the setting and the events he is describing. I was intrigued to learn about a little known piece of European history – how close Portugal came in 1974 to becoming a full blown Communist state after the death of dictator, Salazar. Best of all though is the wonderful creation at the heart of the story, the heroine, Matty James, a beautiful jazz singer, who is torn between ambition in the form of the rich but loathsome and creepily ancient Dr Bendt and the more appealing (Welsh instead of German, vigorous and handsome) Morgan, a man who had been her lover in Portugal, when they were both students in the heady days, when revolution was happening and success seemed a real possibility. Keil writes with a fluency that is positively poetic at times and there are lesser characters to cherish like Dr Bendt’s beautiful German Barbies and the lecherous, unreformed Stalinist playwright, Dave Leaper. How does it all turn out? Who wins the day with the lovely Matty? Whose dead body is found in Bendt’s Olympic-sized 50-metre pool? I won’t spoil your fun by telling but expect to be surprised; I was. On a random note it won’t be most people’s reaction but despite his utter creepiness I was impressed with the evil doctor, spinning his manipulative webs in every direction – so old and crippled and yet still consumed by lust and ambition. He may be most people’s worst nightmare but the old monster positively smoulders with malign energy. Read the book. I loved it and have read it twice already, liking it even more the second time around.


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