The Sparrow Conundrum by Bill Kirton

Winner in the Humor and Satire category of Big Al’s Books and Pals Readers’ Choice Awards 2012. Winner of the Humor category in the 2011 Forward National Literature Awards. Chris Machin isn’t his name, not to the bottom feeders in Aberdeen squabbling over North Sea oil and gas contracts. He has a code name –…

Winner in the Humor and Satire category of Big Al’s Books and Pals Readers’ Choice Awards 2012.

Winner of the Humor category in the 2011 Forward National Literature Awards.

Chris Machin isn’t his name, not to the bottom feeders in Aberdeen squabbling over North Sea oil and gas contracts. He has a code name – Sparrow – and when his garden explodes, he takes flight, plunging the power struggle into hilarious chaos and violence.

A sociopathic cop and a shady ex-girlfriend aren’t much help. The cop thinks that arresting suspects (innocent and guilty) must always involve violence and the ex turns out to be deeply involved in the events which are making Sparrow’s life so complicated.

The bodies pile up—some whole, some in fragments—and two wrestlers join the fray. A road trip seems just the solution, but then so do Inverness, a fishing trawler and a Russian factory ship as the players face … The Sparrow Conundrum.
Available on Amazon

“The Sparrow Conundrum”

Five Star Review on Amazon By BigAl

I saw this described as a “crime spoof,” which is a perfect description. It is full of humor, often dry and subtle, as the stereotype of English humor would indicate. I learned the names of obscure (to me) birds and fish, which are used as codenames amongst the criminals; thankfully, my Kindle dictionary knew them all. Many of the criminals, especially the protagonist Chris Machin, are likeable and sympathetic (with the exception of those crimes they’re supposed to be committing). In contrast, the police are anything but, not to mention much better at crime than the criminals.

Beyond the story, I enjoyed the way Kirton strings words together. For example, I love this line, for how it twists the cliché into something clever, rather than overused:

“Hawk would undoubtedly have been more suspicious, but he was desperate for a gift horse and its mouth was invisible at the other end of a telephone line.”

Kirton won the 2011 Forward National Literature Award in the humor category for this book, and the reason is apparent.

**Originally written for “Books and Pals” book blog. May have received a free review copy. **

About the Author

Bill Kirton was a university lecturer in French before taking early retirement to become a full-time writer. He’s won two 2011 Forward National Literature Awards – ‘The Sparrow Conundrum’ was the overall winner of the Humor category and ‘The Darkness’ was runner up in the Mystery category. ‘The Sparrow Conundrum’ also won the Readers’ Choice Award for satire/humor on the Big Al’s Books and Pals website in 2012. His historical mystery, ‘The Figurehead’, was long-listed for the 2012 Rubery Book Awards.

He’s produced material in many different media. His radio plays have been broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and 4 and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. His stage plays have been performed in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and the USA and he’s been the visiting artist to the Theatre Department of the University of Rhode Island on four separate occasions. There, he directed stage plays, gave classes on creative writing and theatre, performed in revues and translated three plays by Molière for public performance, one of which won a BCLA prize. Material from his Edinburgh Festival revues was broadcast on the BBC, ITV and French television.

He’s also been a TV presenter and a voice-over artist and his scripts for corporate and educational DVDs and videos have won awards in the UK and USA. He’s been a Royal Literary Fund Writing Fellow at the Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, and the universities of Dundee and St Andrews.

Most of his novels are set in the north east of Scotland. ‘Material Evidence’, ‘Rough Justice’, the award-winning ‘The Darkness’, ‘Shadow Selves’ and ‘Unsafe Acts’ all feature DCI Jack Carston. ‘The Figurehead’ is a historical novel set in Aberdeen in 1840. The award-winning ‘The Sparrow Conundrum’, is a spoof spy/crime novel also set in Scotland. His comic fantasy novella, ‘Alternative Dimension’ satirises online role-playing games.

His short stories have appeared in the Crime Writers’ Association annual anthology in 1999, 2005 and 2006. IN 2010, one was also chosen for the ‘Best British Crime Stories, Vol. 7’ anthology edited by Maxim Jacubowski.

His non-fiction output includes ‘Brilliant Study Skills’, ‘Brilliant Essay’, ‘Brilliant Dissertation’, ‘Brilliant Workplace Skills’ and ‘Brilliant Academic Writing. He also co-wrote ‘Just Write’ with Kathleen McMillan.

He writes books for children. ‘Rory the Dragon and Princess Daisy’ was published as a tribute to his great niece, Daisy Warn, who lived for just 16 weeks. Proceeds from its sales go to a children’s hospice in South-West England. ‘The Loch Ewe Mystery’ is a stand-alone novel for children aged 7-12 and he’s preparing a series about a grumpy male fairy called Stanley who lives under a cold, dripping tap in his bedroom.

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