The Satsuma Complex by Bob Mortimer

The Satsuma Complex by Bob Mortimer

Starting The Satsuma Complex by Bob Mortimer I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’d never watched Shooting Stars or The Smell of Reeves and Mortimer. However, I like Bob Mortimer’s quirky sense of humour from watching the delightful Gone Fishing series multiple times. And I (like vast swathes of the public) laugh at his retelling of totally improbable, but often true, stories on the BBC Would I Lie to You? quiz show. Poor opposition team captain David Mitchell never knows what to believe and invariably guesses wrong. So even though I’d read a few mixed reviews about The Satsuma Complex I wasn’t put off and settled in to find out for myself.

Let’s step back in time shall we

The story begins with the main character Gary explaining that he’s an average sort of bloke who’s found himself in a spot of bother.

“I’m on the short side of average height and come equipped with a large nose that borders on the comical if I wear sunglasses. … To describe me as anonymous would be unfair, but to notice me other than in passing would be a rarity.”

Things start to go awry when our everyday hero reluctantly agrees to meet Brendan, a slightly annoying bloke who works for a private investigator company that the firm of solicitors Gary works for represents.

“Brendan thinks of himself as a ‘fun’ character, and he probably is if you like the company of loud blokes. He talks non-stop and uses laughter as a form of punctuation.”

It’s the typical awkward meet up of two people who don’t really have anything in common and the conversation is stilted and awkward. Therefore, it’s hardly surprising Gary becomes distracted.

“My mind drifted away for a moment and I looked over Brendan’s shoulder towards the end of the bar. A pretty, dark-haired woman, probably a few years younger than me, was sat alone staring at her phone and sipping on a gassy drink. I acknowledged withinward that I fancied her then refocused my attention on Brendan.”

When Brendan leaves, Gary plucks up the courage to chat to the young lady. He’s not that great on the whole relationship front but thinks things are going well until she vanishes on him. But his interest is piqued and he picks up ‘The Satsuma Complex’ book she’s left behind and pops it in his briefcase.

An unexpected visit

The next day Gary gets knock on the door from the police. Brendan is dead and Gary is the last person to see him alive. Suddenly the need to find Satsuma Girl steps up a notch. She can corroborate his alibi.

The Satsuma Complex ticks along nicely with an entertaining cast of quirky characters from Gary’s older, cranky neighbour Grace and her chilled sheepdog Lassoo to the gym obsessed café owner Wayne and his dad. The conversations between them are a mixture of the everyday and Bob Mortimer’s distinctive and very random sense of humour.

I see trouble ahead

In Part Two we step into the shoes of Emily aka Satsuma Girl and that’s when things get a bit more interesting. It’s the ‘aaahhh’ point in the book when as a reader you sit up that bit straighter on the sofa and start reading the pages a bit faster. There’s definitely more to this young woman than meets the eye.

Who doesn’t love a squirrel

I enjoyed Bob Mortimer’s debut novel but wondered if the author didn’t quite trust his readers. The squirrels are amusing but often seemed to be used to clarify what had just happened. Was Mr Mortimer worried we might not be keeping up. Or maybe we didn’t quite grasp the reason behind a scene? Perhaps it’s just me. Maybe everyone else liked the clarifying squirrels.

The Satsuma Complex by Bob Mortimer is definitely entertaining and easy to read. It’s a shade under three hundred pages so it didn’t take long to finish either. I’ll be interested to see how this likeable and slightly wimpy character develops in the next instalment. Hotel Avocado comes out in August.