Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Sparrow Conundrum / Bill Kirton

Reviewed by: BigAl

Genre: Crime/Satire

Approximate word count: 65-70,000 words

Kindle US:
YES UK: YES Nook: YES Smashwords: YES Paper: YES
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords store


A former university lecturer, Bill Kirton was born in England and has lived most of his life in Scotland. He has written everything you could imagine, from academic essays and dissertations to songs and plays. He has several more short stories and novels available for your favorite eReader. Until recently, you could find Kirton blogging, but can now find out all about him on his new website.


“Machin’s garden explodes, igniting a power struggle over lucrative North Sea oil and gas contracts. The Sparrow takes flight amidst chaos and violence that are the least of the strange goings-on.

1st Place, Humor, 2011 Forward National Literature Awards.”


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.


Uses UK spelling conventions and slang (possibly Scottish too, but I’m no expert).

Some adult language. While there is very little that is explicit, sexual themes and innuendo are constant. If the thought of anything sexual makes you blush, especially if it involves obscure kinks and fetishes (anything beyond a man, a woman, and a bed), this isn’t the book for you.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues.

Rating: ***** Five stars


Bill Kirton said...

Glad you liked it, Al. Thanks for the review.

Julie @ Knitting and Sundries said...

Don't you LOVE the Kindle dictionary? This sounds like a fun read. Thanks for the review.

BooksAndPals said...

I do, Julie. While I don't think I have a bad vocabulary no one knows every word. With paper books if I saw a word I didn't know I could usually get a sense of what it meant from context, but now it so easy to check the meaning. At least some of the time I'm sure I'll retain that new knowledge too. :)

Thanks for the comment,