Sitting Duck is written in the form of a journal, and right at the beginning, the reader is informed that ‘This is a journal of a man about to die’. So no surprises there – Martin Mallard, the man writing the journal will not survive.
Martin is not a particularly likeable man. He is a middle-aged dentist who comes over as pedantic, staid, and uptight, and the journal follows his first holiday outside Europe. He has chosen the island of Pootapuri which is a somewhat rough and ready place more likely to attract backpackers.
His fellow holidaymakers are an odd bunch and he succeeds in alienating quite a few of them. I felt this was a place and holiday which was an odd choice for this man to make. I also felt the holiday venue could have done with an inspection by health and safety, because many of the tours the holiday makers took were fraught with danger.
As I read further into the journal I couldn’t help feeling Martin was accident prone, but then the accidents took a sinister turn. Things like a pile of roof slates falling on him when the group visit a slate making factory, then his bed goes on fire, he’s pushed over a precipice, warned of danger by a priest, and is lost in the jungle. All this, plus the knowledge that this man will not survive, makes it plain he is being hunted by someone with homicidal tendencies.
I did cringe at places when he did silly things, such as eavesdropping, looking through bathroom keyholes, and his encounter with a masseuse – I won’t go into details about that.
I didn’t find Martin a likeable character, nor did I find his antics particularly appealing. The comic nature of the situations he found himself in, also eluded me, however I think I may lack a funny bone, and I’ve never found the slipping on a banana skin type of humour, funny.
However there was a growing feeling of menace as the journal progressed. There was also a great feeling of the primitive nature of the country which was largely uncivilised.
I think the author achieved what he set out to do and this was an unusual and intriguing book.
Available in Kindle format
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