Reviews of Laughing Boy

This book has a great story. The descriptions and scenes pull you into

this comedians world which is written so well that you can imagine it clearly. There is humor, fear, passion, and suspense! I couldn’t put it down! 

Tommy Martin is a well known Norwich-based stand-up comedian, struggling to connect with a teenage daughter who texts him from upstairs and still harbours resentment for the way he used her school play in his routine. He’s also trying to move on from the death of his wife – and his burgeoning relationship with a modern artist coincides with a series of strange, possibly supernatural events. This character-driven ghost story is built around a middle-aged hero whose pleasure centres are still suspended in the 90s and for whom a conventional horror story “haunting” mostly means coming to terms with his own parental shortcomings and his pent-up resentment at his late wife for not being around. It’s a story rich in humour, from Tommy’s frequent Googling of ear hair remover to an array of witty pop culture references name checking everyone from Paul Merton to John Waters. Its strongest moments tend to be the quietest, like Tommy’s realisation that he was always too busy honing his jokes to even pay attention to what his daughter’s favourite cereal is. The familiar haunting angle is punctuated with laughs (notably a reference to a key GHOSTBUSTERS scene), a foray into backward-talking David Lynch territory and a show-stopping fatality in an art gallery. Tommy, like all human beings, isn’t always likeable but Blissett’s empathetic characterisation is rich and authentic, and his journey pays off with a wrenching, ultimately moving emotional exorcism.

Matt again has managed to sweep you away with the characters of this book, in a similar way to Caitlin in “Until she Sings”
Tommy had me praying for his success, especially when getting further into the story.
I found myself hoping for a happy ending with Evelyn and Penny, and was so relieved when Rebecca came round near the end.
I would suggest that anyone wanting a really good read, that they should definitely invest in this book and Matts 1st book.

Laughing Boy tells the tale of a haunting. It takes the reader into the life of Tommy, and sees him having to pick open the scabbed-over wounds of the far from perfect marriage to his dead wife, Sophie, when she begins to interfere with Tommy’s blossoming new relationship with Evelyn. This takes place as he is also fighting to heal the rift between himself and his teenage daughter, Penny. As Sophie’s influence becomes more and more dangerous Tommy finds help from an unexpected source.

Story aside, Blissett’s writing speaks to every aspect of relationships. Not simply the honeymoon period of the new. Through Tommy’s eyes you will be rewarded (for that is exactly what it feels like) to explanations of the emotional roller coaster of a ride that old and new relationships can subject us to. Feelings you may have agonised over, in your own attempts to understand the confusion you felt during moments similar to Tommy’s, are explained in succinct, measured words.

‘A perfect Moebius strip of apologies…before one of us finds the courage to stop…the relief tinged with sadness.’

This is what Blissett does best. He writes with an open-wound elegance that leaves his readers purged. Like a literary blood-letting. Yes, there are a couple of not-so-polished places where the many cogs evident in professional publications are lacking, but these instances do not detract in any way from the story. In fact they highlight that you are witnessing the next step along a very determined development as a writer.

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