High-speed adventures of a war veteran struggling to adapt to civilian life
320 pages, ★★★★
This action-packed adventure novel describes one man’s journey after his return from a tour of duty in Iraq. He can’t settle into sleepy civilian life, so he ends up hustling, fighting, and gambling money he doesn’t have on ridiculous bets. In a post-war confused state of mind, he makes some shockingly rash decisions (e.g. befriending people he shouldn’t, and shooting people he shouldn’t). The entire story is ridiculous, well-written and has comic value, but also leaves a meaningful impression by the conclusion.
The story is set in a high-stakes, high-speed part of London. The protagonist loses money at a poker table and tries to win it back by first, bankrupting his wife’s business, and second, taking a double-or-quits bet that involved walking to Oxford overnight, drunk and jet-lagged.
The story then grips the reader. Episodes with guns, Hummers, poker, cash, bankruptcy, marriage, divorce, people trafficking, kidnapping, escape, terrorism and counter-terrorism all ensue. It’s action-packed.
The conclusion is that soldiers find it very difficult to adapt to civilian life after war. In chasing what he wanted (a high-speed, fight-to-survive hustle), he ended up destroying the sleepy, but beautiful world he worked so hard to build before going to Iraq. Even by the end of the book, he hadn’t managed to mend any bridges.
More Than You Can Say reminds me of the film Run, Lola, Run, in which the protagonist and her reckless boyfriend spend the entire movie sprinting in search of the €20,000 that they owe to some dangerous people. That film, and this book, are equally action-packed. It also reminds me of Johnny English and Crank for its elements of comedy. ★★★★