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Armadillo by William Boyd

Armadillo (1998)

by William Boyd

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Showing 5 of 5
Absolutely brilliant - to the very end. Did not want to stop reading this book. ( )
  Des2 | Mar 31, 2013 |
Bought this on a whim, took a little while to get into it, but once it got into its stride, wow!! Torquil Helvoir-Jayne is possibly the best comedy character I have encountered in fiction. Some fantastic writing here, definitely left me wanting to read more of Boyd's work ( )
  jayne_charles | Sep 7, 2010 |
As you'd expect from William Boyd, Armadillo is well written and readable. The plot isn't quite strong enough though, or the characters particularly interesting. I'd describe several of Boyd's books - notably Any Human Heart, Restless and Brazzaville Beach - as absorbing; this one isn't. ( )
  YossarianXeno | Sep 7, 2010 |
He was in his failed detective novel phase. About some complicated insurance scam - good writing, especially in the beginning, but he seems unclear if he wants to write a love story or a detective novel, and neither quite worked. ( )
1 vote bobbieharv | Jan 30, 2008 |
This book, released a couple of years ago, will undergo something of a re-discovery as a result of the excellent series running on BBC Prime.

Aficionados of William Boyd will recognise the style - Its similarity to Brazzaville Beach is that the real significance of the book can only be understood once the whole is read, which adds to the enjoyment – not only an excellent read in itself, but the after-frisson of thought provocation.

On the face of it, the book is a bit of a “whodunit”, featuring the travails of Lorimer Black. By day a loss adjuster working in the City of London, by night an unremitting insomniac taking part in a sleep study that reveals his darker side.

As we all know, societal rules and norms in most societies tend mainly to apply to the underlings with the aristocracy marching to their own drumbeat impervious to such trivia as laws. Here it is the same – the rich and the powerful seeking to make a killing; but the loose ends start to unravel as Lorimer intuitively and intelligently investigates an insurance loss that leads to darker world and a side of business life, where greed, corruption hold sway.
Boyd writs fluidly and the characters are exquisitely drawn, immensely recognisable, and great fun. From the boorish, misogynist Torquil Helvoir, the archetypal modern-day Hooray-Henry, to the ethereal and mysterious Flavia, the book cuts a swathe through the pretensions of British mores and manners.

The central theme is that of identity, the human need to “fit in” and the inner struggle when some of the corner stones of our need for acceptability start to fray. Peculiarly British in some regard, where the class system still prevails, but universally prevalent even in the apparently classless USA, and in many ways holding stronger sway today than in the last century. After all is not “class” the cornerstone of branding?

Lorimer, following a life-changing experience in Scotland, seeks the anonymity of conformity, with the trappings of success that it brings, masking the insecurities and fragility prevalent in us all.

As the story unravels, as the truth outs, the weight of the armour we all carry – Lorimer is an expert on armoury – becomes too much to bear, and the man beneath is revealed.

Armadillo, literally meaning the “little armed man”, now pared bare, the layers of disguise slowly stripped away. All William Boyd is worth reading – and this is certainly no exception. ( )
2 vote JonQuirk | Dec 10, 2007 |
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In these times of ours - and we don't need to be precise about the exact date - but, anyway, very early in the year, a young man not much over thirty, tall - six feet plus an inch or two - with ink-dark hair and a serious-looking, fine featured but pallid face, went to keep a business appointment and discovered a hanged man.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 014027944X, Paperback)

Lorimer Black may suffer from a serious sleep disorder and an obsession with the labyrinths of the British class system, but Armadillo's peculiar protagonist is the star insurance adjuster of London's Fortress Sure PLC, unaffectionately known as the Fort. At the very start of William Boyd's noir-ish seventh novel, however, things take a decided swerve for the worse. On a bleak January morning one of his cases has apparently chosen to kill himself rather than talk: "Mr. Dupree was simultaneously the first dead person he had encountered in his life, his first suicide and his first hanged man and Lorimer found this congruence of firsts deceptively troubling."

Soon our hero, who himself has a lot to hide, finds himself threatened by a dodgy type whose loss he has adjusted way down and embroiled with the beautiful married actress Flavia Malinverno. "People who've lost something, they call on you to adjust it, make the loss less hard to bear? As if their lives are broken in some way and they call on you to fix it," Flavia dippily wonders. Lorimer also has his car torched and instantly goes from an object of affection to one of deep suspicion at the Fort. Then there is another case, the small matter of the rock star who may or may not be faking the Devil he says is sitting on his left shoulder.

Needless to say, Lorimer is "becoming fed up with this role of fall guy for other people's woes." Boyd adds a deep layer of psychological heft and a lighter level of humor to this thinking-person's thriller by exploring Lorimer's manifold personal and social fears. This is a man who desperately collects ancient helmets even though he knows they offer only "the illusion of protection." Another of Armadillo's many pleasures: its dose of delicious argot. Should Lorimer "oil" the apparent perpetrator of the Fedora Palace arson before he's oiled himself? Or perhaps he just needs to "put the frighteners" on him. Boyd definitely puts the frighteners on his readers more than once in this cinematically seedy and dazzling literary display. --Kerry Fried

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:53 -0400)

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Lorimer Black, young and good-looking, finds his life turned upside down after discovering a dead body.

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