Who is Tom Ditto  by Danny Wallace

This is a delightful novel. Yes, delightful! I feel that I should be eating cucumber sandwiches and delicately sipping Earl Grey tea when I use such words, but Danny Wallace’s book is, put simply, delightful.

Tom, our reluctant hero, is a newsreader with a problem; his girlfriend Hayley has gone but left a note behind stating that she hasn’t dumped him. Poor Tom is in a quandary as he embarks upon a mission to uncover what has gone wrong and where exactly Hayley is.

I won’t reveal too much detail here as I have no desire to spoil the enjoyment that readers will undoubtedly get from this story. However, I can tell you that it’s set in London, and has a wealth of memorable characters. It also has a marmoset called ‘Binky’, who is apparently ‘a complete tool.’ The main story is punctuated by short chapters that appear to have no relevance, but all will become clear at the end.

Given that the last two books that I read and reviewed were cac, Who is Tom Ditto (no question mark) was a blessed relief. It has moments of great hilarity as Tom meets the quirky Pia and is lead into a life of dubious adventure. It also has scenes of emotional pain and trauma, all handled beautifully. The entire novel is a light-hearted read, and great for it. Wallace knows his audience and comfortably steers the story with the guile of a master.

One of the most refreshing elements of Who is Tom Ditto is that the story-line is original. It is unfortunate that today, so many novels have a premise that requires a member (or former member) of the CIA, FBI, SAS, or some such, who get immersed in a terror plot of some description, then meet a beautiful, feisty woman (usually a doctor, usually of archaeology) and embarks upon saving the planet, or a large proportion of the population on it. Why can’t the hero be a binman and the heroine a check-out assistant? Could there be a touch of white-collar elitism in the literary world?  I hope not (the snobby donkeys).

Thankfully, Who is Tom Ditto does not suffer from such a malaise, and its premise is wonderfully new and mightily interesting. In some ways the approach of the author reminds me of Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity, yet with an entirely different plot. While I’m on the subject, I would like to state that High Fidelity is one instance where the movie was better than the book. To be fair, it had Jack Black in it, at his OTT best. It also had John Cusack who rarely makes a bad movie, although Hot Tub Time Machine was an exception and an absolute stinker (what the hell was he thinking, (and he produced it too)).

One other instance that I can think of, when the movie was much better than the book, was Mel Gibson’s ‘The Passion of the Christ’. I once stated this opinion to a Mensan and she punched me. Vicious intellect…

Anyhow, Who is Tom Ditto will bring a smile to your face and should leave you feeling good about life for some time (probably an hour or so). Brit authors, such as Danny Wallace, are up there with the best of them in terms of having mastered the skills of their trade. I will read him again.

Sult scale rating: 7.5 out of 10. Recommended, instead of having bad sex.

 

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