Dan is the kind of gay man for whom the Noughties might have been named. Warm, witty and serially promiscuous, his heart melts at the sight of a chocolate brown Labrador – but with men, it’s a different matter. He’s thirty-nine and as single as ever, not counting the couple he just met online. An arrangement that looks oddly like it’s going somewhere until Dan gets fired from his job in advertising. With time out from his career and a payoff in his pocket, the summer presents a world of possibilities; just as the memories surface of the ex he blames for the thinly-veiled chaos of his life.
From London to Ljubljana, a yen for closure sets Dan on the trail of the man who fed his ego into a shredder. Through an eerie encounter at the home of the Olympiad and a sleepover at the Dutch Embassy, run-ins with a fading porn star and the celestial manifestation of Margaret Thatcher, he ultimately confronts his past. Until, with his Big Four-Oh rapidly approaching, destiny beckons from where he least expects it.
My thanks to Chris Chalmers for the ARC copy of Dinner at the Happy Skeleton in return for an honest review.
Firstly I have to say that one of the main reasons I enjoyed this book is because I love the main character to the moon and back. Dan is flawed, damaged by a failed love affair, but still warm and so easy to love. Sure he’s promiscuous; he is also insecure and chaotic. He could be you or me and that’s what makes him so easy to like. Not your textbook perfect hero, but just a person trying to navigate a world full of drama’s which threaten to overwhelm him.
The second reason I loved this book, is the warmth of the story and honesty of Chris Chalmers writing! He has an innate understanding of people and the situations they find themselves in. He makes you smile, makes you feel sad, sometimes within the same page, but he is always open and unfailingly honest about Dan’s choices and why he lives the way he does. He makes you care about what might happen to Dan and you become invested in his story.
Dinner at the Happy Skeleton draws you in and makes you wish you could curl up with Dan and share in his life all the time. I didn’t want it to end. I wanted to spend more time with Dan and see where life took him! It’s a book that made me smile, feel sad, but all way through made me wish I knew Dan. I’d want him as a friend! I liked him and I cared about him.
It’s a book about life and the drama’s that Dan as a Gay man encounters, but the beauty of this book is that it could be about any man or women and that is why you should read it. Not pigeon hole it into a genre that might attract a limited readership, but because it’s about a human being seeking to navigate the choppy waters of life and find solid land on which he can build the life he so richly deserves.
Did I mention I love Dan to the moon and back?
Dinner At The Happy Skeleton can be purchased from Amazon
After many years creating advertising campaigns for everything from The Economist to ballet shoes, Chris Chalmers took the plunge into writing adult contemporary fiction.
His first novel, Five To One, about the day a helicopter crashes on Clapham Common, won a debut novel competition and was nominated for the Polari First Book Award. The next, Light From Other Windows, explores the effect on a family when the youngest son is caught in a tsunami. Literary critic Suzi Feay described it as a book that “can bring tears to your eyes on one page and make you laugh the next”. His latest, Dinner at the Happy Skeleton, draws on his advertising career and fondness for the less familiar corners of Europe. He is also the author of the children’s adventure Gillian Vermillion — Dream Detective, which like all his work is published by J.Mendel Books.
Chris lives in South-West London with his partner, a quite-famous concert pianist. He has been the understudy on Mastermind, visited 40 different countries and shared pizza with Donnie Brasco. Publication aside, his most treasured literary achievement is making Martina Navratilova ROFLAO on Twitter.