A serpent uncoiled by

London hacked up its lungs and glistened.
–Simon Spurrier - A serpent uncoiled - c.2011

Dan Shaper is a private investigator. He used to be a mob enforcer. He used to beat and batter and otherwise assault various people on behalf of his criminal bosses. But he got out of that life. Tragedy came calling and his crime family chose business over him and his revenge. But you don’t leave that sort of a life without scars, and Dan has plenty of issues. Usually he medicates. It is his solution. If he doesn’t then what he calls his “Sickness” will overwhelm him. He has plenty of technical terms different psychologists have come up with, but none of them appeal. So Sickness it is.

A cocktail of uppers and downers keeps him level. Usually.

In A serpent uncoiled he is busy trying to protect and old, befuddled man who claims to be a couple of thousand years old. He doesn’t remember exactly, sometime in the last few decades he lost his memory, he has no idea what he did in the past, but he thinks he might be in danger now. Someone has been sending him threatening letters. And there are bodies to go with those messages. Can Shaper protect him?

There’s also a girl, because you gotta have a love interest.

I’m pretty sure it was seeing some of the video Spurrier has on his blog that prompted me to buy this book. And I think it was a worthwhile investment.

It was a book that as long as I was reading I was thoroughly enjoying, but when I put it down I wasn’t hugely gripped into picking up again. I don’t say that to be negative about it, but just to clarify. I liked it. I didn’t love it.

It isn’t my usual sort of novel, maybe that’s why I wasn’t so immersed in it. It is a mystery detective book, with a very pulpy style of writing to it. I don’t read a whole heap of those sort of books.

I do think that paragraph is enough to put anyone off, I’m almost of a mind to delete it because I don’t want to put anyone off, I did enjoy it. I would read more by Spurrier. In fact I think I’ll try his début novel at some stage, the blurb, a hitman whose victims are coming back to life, sounds really interesting.

I think maybe some of my distance from the story is because of Dan’s background. He is a bad guy. Or at least he used to be one, and this sort of “former bad guy turned hero” seems to be all over the place at the moment. The hero1 decides to help people now, but in most cases there is very little restitution. Plenty of regret and “damn I used to be so bad”, but little by the way ot making things right with those you have wronged. And very little acknowledgement of the real damage the hero did in the past2 just that he is now helping instead of hindering. Is that enough?

Its harsh to land all this on A serpent uncoiled, and in fairness Dan does suffer because of what he has done. But he also has a fridged woman in his background. :(

Leaving all that baggage to one side it is a pretty entertaining story, and I quite liked Dan by the end. I would also like to see where he goes from here, but I don’t think a sequel ever came out? However he does have a comic out called Six Gun Gorilla, that should be good enough for anyone.

Buy or borrow : 9780755385898 Other reviews : Many a true nerd ; I will read books


  1. it is usually a dude, Black Widow might be the exception 

  2. again Black Widow is an exception, she seems to recognise that fact 

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