Utterly Monkey

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 30 April, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 30 April, 2006, 12:00am

Utterly Monkey


by Nick Laird


Harper Perennial, $112


He's a creative schizophrenic, Nick Laird. Utterly Monkey, superficially a smooth-flowing, funny, accessible debut novel, actually bumps along to a background soundtrack of anger and unsettled scores. That rage makes itself unwelcome in the ordered life of cynical young Irish solicitor Danny Williams, now making his way at a prestigious London firm, when a childhood friend, fidgeting small-time ne'er-do-well Geordie Wilson, arrives on his doorstep. Geordie's unsavoury connections - and his concealment under Danny's bath of a large sum stolen from Ulster Loyalists - haul the leather satchel-toting Cambridge University graduate back into the murky world of 'the troubles'. Into the same orbit of looming conflagration come Geordie's girlfriend Janice, an unsophisticated shop assistant, and the gleaming Ellen, a fashionable, confident black trainee lawyer and object of Danny's desires. Ulsterman Laird worked as a lawyer in London. He's married to black novelist Zadie Smith, whom he met at Cambridge. Laird insists his engaging, entertaining novel is not autobiographical. Let the reader decide.