Raffles and The Match-Fixing Syndicate by Adam Corres

I know the guy who wrote this, and he gave me a free copy to review so it seems fair that I give it as much coverage as I can. The original review is up on Amazon and you can get the book there as well.

Let’s be honest about two things before I start this review:

1) I know the author. Not well, more through other people than first hand but I do know the chap.
2) I hate cricket. Which is a shame as that’s what the novel is focussed around. However, it does mean that I wasn’t expecting to like the book from the off.

Thing is, I did like the book. It almost makes cricket sound like an interesting sport until you get to the end realising that you still understand nothing about it and it’s all just terminology designed to confuse the layman. I’ll stick to rounders (that’s baseball to you lot in North Am) and football (that’s football to you lot in North Am – you’ve got the name wrong).

Corres starts off with what seems like a few short stories, which don’t seem linked until the book gets past the halfway point. Almost like anecdotes, but enough to introduce the two main characters. The tales themselves are just on the right side of ridiculous (or maybe incredulous), but like the great Frank Carson “it’s the way he tells them”.

The language can take a little to get your head around, but it’s just right given the subject matter. Our storyteller (and other side characters) are often twisted in mwental spirals by Raffles. Raffles, on the other hand, never seems to break linguistic sweat. Which is how it should be. For fans of old novels (or like me, old-ish TV series) imagine the likes of Jeeves and Wooster. “Bunny”, the narrator, is a far cry from the blustering and useless Wooster but Raffles is very close to Jeeves. Always knowing what to do and manipulating people into doing things that we’re not even aware need doing as yet. And when confronted, acting as if he was aware that everyone must have known what he was up to all along.

It just reads well. Despite the frivolous use of a thesaurus in it’s making, the story is never hard to follow. There are many genuine “laugh out loud” moments – a couple of people nearby when I was reading certain episodes will attest to that fact.

I like a book that makes good use of language – it’s why I love the likes of Adams and Pratchett. Raffles and the Match Fixing Syndicate certainly fits into that camp. The story isn’t on a par with either of those authors’ best, but this is only Corres’ second outing. In honesty, I found the very last chapter (the Postscript) didn’t fit well with the rest of the book. The story ends well, but this last tiny chapter just seemed tacked on.

It didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the rest of the book, though. I’ll certainly try and dig out a copy of Corres’ previous novel and keep my eyes out for anything he does next.

I just hope it’s not about cricket.