Written by Douglas Lindsay — Relax Beatles fans. This isn’t a novel inspired by their epoch-making Sgt Pepper album, which had a track entitled Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite. However a Mr Kite does come into it and there are Beatles references inside…
James Kite is a failed script writer. Now he runs a Starbucks near Bristol. Life is ordinary for him, and on somewhat of a downward slide, particularly with regard to his relationship with his wife. That is until his long-forgotten agent calls. Amazingly, a famous US film producer wants one of his scripts, entitled The Jigsaw Man. The producer is so impressed he’s prepared to pay for Kite to fly to Los Angeles for a meeting and he has a leading man already in mind – Jason Statham.
The screenplay was inspired by a man of few words who would sit in the Stand Alone cafe in Glasgow and do puzzles all day. In his younger days, Kite would often meet a small group of friends in that cafe and watch the Jigsaw Man – friends who he didn’t fully know and shared a complicated set of relationships. But times changed and one by one his friends drifted away and so did the Jigsaw Man.
When Kite boards the plane to LA, it takes off and then crashes, killing everyone onboard. Except Kite that is. Within 24 hours, he finds himself in an interrogation room being mercilessly interviewed by two American secret agents at an unknown location. No-one knows he’s there because the world believes Kite is dead, along with hundreds of other passengers. Kite is told if he leaves the room he’ll be killed. He must stay until he gives up his secret – how did he escape? But Kite is as puzzled as they are, and soon Kite works out that the agents are really trying to find out about the Jigsaw Man? To get his old life back Kite must pursue the Jigsaw Man, starting with his old friends, particularly the sexy Jones…
This is a difficult story to characterise, and very different to Lindsay’s other work. It’s heavy on mystery – a gradual unwinding of why and then how Kite did the impossible and escaped a plane crash, which isn’t revealed until the very end. It’s surreal, and very puzzling as the narrative goes backwards and forwards in time. Often it’s best to just allow yourself to be taken along for the ride. And that’s easy to do. Mr Kite is a compelling read with an undercurrent of dry and dark humour. Kite has three key obsessions which run through the tale in layers like a Batenburg cake – a woman called Jones, from the cafe, whom he had a crush on; The Beatles; and coffee. All these elements are key to Kite, his mystery and getting home.
CFL Rating: 5 Stars