Random House UK, Cornerstone| 21 January 2021| 336 pages| Kindle review copy| 4*
I wasn’t at all sure about Exit by Belinda Bauer when I first started to read it a few months ago, so put it to one side and only picked it up again a few days ago. What initially put me off was the opening chapter, which sets the scene for the work of the Exiteers, a group of people who provide support for people with a terminal illness to end their lives. Their role is ostensibly passive, just to be there to keep the dying company as they take their final breaths. But they do provide the means! And one assignment for John (real name Felix Pink) and Amanda goes wrong when they discover they have ‘helped’ the wrong man.
But I read on and what at first looks like a novel considering the ethics of assisted suicide turns into crime fiction as Felix and Amanda realise they have become murder suspects. It’s all mayhem after that as Felix, overcome with remorse, tries to put things right and to discover how and why the wrong man had died.
Far from being a ‘thriller’ it becomes a borderline ‘cosy’ murder mystery, verging on farce in places and I was amused by the wry humour and surreal scenes. It’s a comedy of errors, interspersed with poignant scenes as we learn about Felix’s grief over the deaths of his wife, Margaret and son James. His thoughts always end up with wondering what Margaret would do in the same situation.
It gets off to a slow start, the pace only gradually picking up in the later chapters, when the multiple twists kept me engaged and keen to know how it would end. There are quite a lot of characters in the book, which I found a bit confusing at first, although the main characters, Felix and Acting DC Calvin Bridges are clearly defined and distinctive characters. Some of the minor characters, such as old Greybeard and other clients in the betting shop, are clearly quirky and their actions absurd. And I particularly liked old Skipper, Albert’s father. But underneath the comedy there is a tragedy, as Felix discovers how he has been deceived all along. And the ending is bitter sweet. I began not sure I really wanted to read Exit and ended it feeling I’m glad I did. It’s unlike anything else I’ve read!
Thanks to the publishers and NetGalley for my proof copy.
We’ve come to the end of Bev’s Mount TBR Challenge, so it’s time for the final checkpoint!
1. Tell us how many miles you made it up the mountain:
I began the year aiming for Mount Vancover – that is 36 books and I made it, ending the year by reading 38 of my TBRs.
2. The Words to the Wise According to Mount TBR: Using the titles of the books you read this year, see how many of the familiar proverbs and sayings below you can complete with a book read on your journey up the Mountain. Feel free to add/subtract a word or two to help them make sense. I have given my titles as examples:
A stitch in time…[saves] Hitler’s Secret (Rory Clements)
Don’t count your chickens…[before] Becoming Mrs Lewis (Patti Callahan)
A penny saved is…. Saving Missy (Beth Morrey)
All good things must come… (to) The Last Day (Andrew Hunter Murray)
When in Rome… [bring] Fresh Water for Flowers (Valerie Perrin)
All that glitters is not… Looking Good Dead (Peter James)
A picture is worth… The Year Without Summer (Guinivere Glasfurd)
When the going gets tough, the tough get… The Guardians (John Grisham)
Two wrongs don’t make… A Killing Kindness (Reginald Hill)
The pen is mightier than…. The Power-House (John Buchan)
The squeaky wheel gets… Yesterday’s Papers (Martin Edwards)
Hope for the best, but prepare for… Smallbone Deceased (Michael Gilbert)
Birds of a feather flock… [in] Thin Air (Michelle Paver)
My thanks to Bev for hosting Mount TBR 2020. And so on to Mount TBR 2021
Books must be owned by you prior to January 1, 2021. No library books. Any reread may count, regardless of how long you’ve owned it prior to 2021, provided you have not counted it for a previous Mount TBR Challenge. Audiobooks and E-books may count if they are yours and they are one of your primary sources of backlogged books. You may count “Did Not Finish” books provided they meet your own standard for such things, you do not plan to ever finish it, and you move it off your mountain [give it away, sell it, etc. OR remove it from your e-resources].
There are a number of different levels to choose from:
Pike’s Peak: Read 12 books from your TBR pile/s
Mount Blanc: Read 24 books from your TBR pile/s
Mt. Vancouver: Read 36 books from your TBR pile/s
Mt. Ararat: Read 48 books from your TBR pile/s
Mt. Kilimanjaro: Read 60 books from your TBR pile/s
El Toro*: Read 75 books from your TBR pile/s (*aka Cerro El Toro in South America)
Mt. Everest: Read 100 books from your TBR pile/s
Mount Olympus (Mars): Read 150+ books from your TBR pile/s
and for now I’m going for Mt Vancouver, which is to read 36 books and hope to move up to the higher levels if I can.