I loved this entertaining and exciting novel! When music is your life – no wonder the book itself is construed as a song. Drive-By Shouting is a modern day tale of friendship, betrayal, deceit and love. At University, Simon and Matt become close friends, even more so because they discover a shared love for music. As Simon is a great guitar player, Matt wants him to play along but he needs an artist’s name. Thus Simon becomes Gram and their rock band Cymbal is born. If only they could have understood why the music press turned from ecstatic praise to devastating critiques, their lives would have been completely different…
Some 15 years after leaving University, Gram and Matt are barely on speaking terms. Where once they shared almost everything, including a birthday, now it is only a vague, yearly almost obligatory, meet up in a pub for a celebratory drink. The reason lies in the past: Gram blames Matt for having moved forward after breaking up their band – moreover, for using a joint production of a song for his own career later on. Where Gram is still waiting for the opportunity of a lifetime, Matt has become famous as the lead singer in a band and is a successful television host. The girl Gram fancied all those years ago is Matt’s wife and mother of their two children. Life is smiling upon Matt – but now he has brought on himself a serious problem: he has impregnated his mistress Kate. Of all the people Matt knows there is only one he can confide in, his old mate Gram. Waving a bit of money in Gram’s face wouldn’t hurt either..
Gram is rather surprised when Matt arranges to meet him but that is nothing compared to his reaction when he hears Matt’s story. There is Matt, married to a girl Gram once fancied, having an affair with Kate, who was responsible for bringing down their rock band with her scornful musical critiques. Kate is now married to Steven, a hotshot in the music business, with influence reaching far and wide. Gram still bears a huge grudge against Kate as well as Matt and there is no way in hell he is going to help either of them to sort out their affairs. What are the odds of a chance meeting of Kate and Gram after the latter stormed out of his meeting with Matt? Come to think of it, who would expect Gram and Kate to become friends? It makes Matt jumpy, realising his future lies in Gram’s hands. The growing feeling of failure adds to the anger inside Gram, in danger of boiling over – letting the betrayers back into his life could just tip the bucket.
I love this book construed in the form of a song – with parts as the Overture, Bridge and Chorus. It is totally different from the crime thrillers I usually read – yes, there is some blood but the scars are mental ones. It was a great story to read, the different characters excellently described and the plot well-written. It is easy to empathise with Gram but sometimes you also wanted to shake him out of it! At the moment, I’m debating whether Gram should have ‘manned up’ – taken control of his life at an earlier stage and why his former best friend holds such influence still. At the end of the book, Matt says something to him that rang so true it made me wonder why I had not spotted that before – and whether there was more truth in it than Gram would ever acknowledge. It would be giving away the common thread of the book and what would be the fun of that?!
I’m absolutely thrilled to have read this original and exciting novel; reading the background information on the author made me understand the insights into the world of broadcasting and music industry the book provides. It made me also wonder as the author himself is a broadcaster and songwriter …need I say more??!! Drive-By Shouting is an entertaining, refreshing and enjoyable debut novel – to be recommended!
Bits about Books @CarolineBookBit