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End of the World Bluesby Jon Courtenay Grimwood
Synopses & Reviews
Friday, 15 August 2003
Later, Kit Nouveau was to realise that his world unravelled in Tokyo, six months after a cos-play stuffed large amounts of money into a locker that could be opened with a cheap screwdriver, had anyone known what it contained. Until then, he'd thought it ended fifteen years earlier, at 10.38 pm, on Friday, 15 August 2003, behind an old barn on the chalk hills above Middle Morton, a small town in Hampshire.
Who knew? Certainly not the nineteen-year-old squaddie leaning against the barn's wooden wall. He'd come to the party with his latest girlfriend, a high-breasted Welsh girl called Amy who had a filthy laugh and, he hoped, filthy habits. Only she was inside sulking and the girl whose bandeau top he'd just undone was going out with someone else.
Hey, said Kit. “It’s okay.”
Pushing him away, the girl re-tied a ribbon. No, she said. “It's not.” Mary O’Mally wore lipstick, black eyeliner, and bare legs under a frayed white miniskirt . . . Both makeup and attitude put on in a bus shelter roughly half way between her parents' house and the barn. She’d cut her hair since Kit last saw her and had red highlights put in.
Under his own waxed jacket Kit wore a Switchblade Lies tee- shirt, with jeans and biker boots. His fair hair had been cropped and the faintest trace of a blond, very non-regulation goatee ghosted his chin.
Inside the hut someone took off Original Pirate Material and slung on Tight Smile, jacking up the volume.
Wait, said Kit, when Mary tried to say something. And they both listened to the bass line, as Vita Brevis thumbed a Vintage five-string. Then came Art Nouveau, splintering Vita's bass line with a three-chord crash, and Kit found himself fingering fret shapes onto empty air.
I'll walk you home, he said.
“Kit . . .”
Undoing her top had been stupid but old habits died hard. Josh was a nice guy, in a rich-boy kind of way, but Mary was Kit's ex-girlfriend and he still occasionally dreamed about her. Reassuring dreams, at least reassuring to someone who’d puked his way through an Iraqi firefight, put his sniper training into practise, and was on compassionate leave while his Colonel worked out what to do about an incident no one really wanted to make the papers.
I'd better go back.
“Okay,” said Kit.
“You coming with me?
Shaking his head, Kit said, Better not. Can you get Josh to give Amy a lift home? And, you know . . .” Kit stopped, wondering how to put his thoughts into words.
What? said Mary.
“You know. If you and Josh ever . . .”
“If we . . .
If you split up,” said Kit, “then maybe we could try again?” His voice trailed off as he realised Mary wanted to slap him, which wouldn't be the first time. I know, he said, holding up his hands.
“No you don't,” she said, dirty blonde hair brushing bare shoulders as she shook her head, each shake fiercer than the one before. You have no fucking idea.
Mary and Kit went out for five months, right up to the start of last year's exams. She’d just about convinced her mother that Kit and band practise weren
Kit Nouveau, a British expatriate living in Tokyo, running a biker bar, and sleeping with the wife of a Yakusa gang lord, is rescued from an armed robbery by a mysterious young girl wearing a red cloak, a thief and possible murderer who appears out of nowhere to save him, possesses a omniscient cat, and is still in high school, in a suspenseful, sci-fi thriller. Original. 20,000 first printing.
From Jon Courtenay Grimwood, author of the celebrated Arabesk series, comes a stunningly inventive novel of futuristic noir set in a world of shifting realities. Here a man is drawn into a gritty postmodern subculture and a secret kingdom of otherworldly beings to find what he lost long ago: a reason to live.
Kit Nouveau figured he’d already come to the end of the world. An Iraqi war veteran, expatriate, and part owner of Pirate Mary’s, the best Irish bar in Tokyo, Kit had settled down to await the inevitable with barely a whimper. It wasn’t exactly how Kit thought he’d end up, and he was right.
It’s going to end up a lot worse.
A teenage runaway with fifteen million dollars in stolen cash and a taste for cosplay is about to save Kit’s life in a lethal swirl of scarlet and bridal lace. Lady Neku, a.k.a. Countess of High Strange, has her own dangerous destiny to fulfill and it’s mysteriously connected to Kit’s ravaged past. Now Kit’s only hope for redemption is to save an ex-girlfriend he tragically failed once before. But everyone says it’s already too late. And she’s left behind only one ominous clue: her suicide note.
About the Author
Jon Courtenay Grimwood lives in England. The third book in his acclaimed Arabesk series, Felaheen, won the 2003 British Science Fiction Association Award, appeared on Locus Magazine's 2003 Recommended Reading List, and appeared on SFSite's Best of 2003 list.
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