Tom Hocknell is from Kent and lives in London. He has been a social worker, car salesman and gardener. He attended the Faber Academy and The Life Assistance Agency was his first novel. His regular Idle Blogs of an Idle Fellow aims to embrace random topics of modern living, but mostly complains about other people’s inability to make decent tea. He also writes for Classic Pop magazine, the Good Men Project and The Line of Best Fit. The music references abound pertinently in Unfinished Business.
The Life Assistance Agency was one of those books where I had not heard of the author and had no expectations at all but it turned out to be an absolute delight to read.
The review can be found here. https://bookphace.blogspot.com/2016/11/the-life-assistance-agency-thomas.html
Thus my anticipation for this sequel ran high so I was delighted to jump aboard the LoveReads blog tour for Unfinished Business.
It can be something of a challenge to review a sequel where characters are familiar, situations are parallel because you can end up repeating yourself or struggling to find something new to say. I’m up for the challenge!
I’m a sucker for a debut novel but I also revel in seeing how a writer sustains and develops their style. The Life Assistance Agency amused me but this had me chuckling out loud! The writing is sharp and witty with a keen awareness of rock and pop culture amongst many other keen awarenesses!! The narrative doesn’t let up for a minute. It’s almost exhausting as the reader is subjected to a barrage of wit and action.
Our hapless duo Ben and Scott have recovered from their European ‘jaunts’ of the previous book and are determined to continue with the Life Assistance Agency. On cue the phone rings and off we go!
The original two characters are sustained and developed, it’s like you’re reacquainting yourself with a couple of old friends. The new characters are scrumptious!! Billy Fury! If you’re as old as me you’ll understand the exclamation mark. If you’re not, don’t worry! Nick is just short of the rock star caricature. Amber begins as the potential love interest but is, oh, so much more. And I loved the way this female character had a pivotal role to play in the book. One of my criticisms of the previous book was that the female characters were just functional. Not so here. I did figure out her role eventually but it was cunningly done.
I’m never one to wittingly offer spoilers so I don’t want to say too much but themes of a spiritual nature explored in the previous book are continued here but with the absence of of any real historical sequences. Occasional, historical references, yes, in case readers may mourn the absence of of Foxe and Kelley! But a sensible move on the writer’s part to take the theme to a different dynamic.
One thing I’m on the fence about is whether the reading of the first book is a necessity to truly appreciate the second. I certainly would say that I was very glad I’d read the Life Assistance Agency. It enhanced my enjoyment of Unfinished Business. And I’m pretty sure than anyone who reads this book will seek the first one out if they haven’t read it. I understand there are plans afoot for a third volume, a trilogy no less! This really is unfinished business then!
My thanks to Kelly at Love Books and Urbane Publications for the opportunity to read this entertaining book.
Please do check out the contributions from my amazing blogger colleagues also on the tour.