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The Shelbourne Ultimatum by Ross O’Carroll Kelly

Writing.ie | Humour

By Kevin Massey

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Ross O’Carroll-Kelly returns after a brush with death and eschewing the usual epiphanies and resolutions to live a better life. His only determination is the return to his old ways, in which ignorance is certainly bliss. Despite his determination, we do see a gradual change in Ross, a level of self-awareness that appears at key moments in his life; the birth of his daughter, when his father had a heart attack. Ross might be growing up at last.

That is not to say that he is becoming boring. He retains his innate ability to say or do exactly the wrong thing at exactly the wrong time (the laptop/waffle incident being a prime example) One of the strongest features of the Ross books has been Paul Howard’s ability to write slapstick humour. The set pieces, Ross’s talent for making a bad situation worse and still breeze through it claiming the moral high ground are as good as ever.

Another feature of the books has always been the distinctive ‘voice’ of each character (Charles O’Carroll-Kelly is a particular favourite) that elevates the supporting characters from being mere backdrop to Ross’s antics and gives you a greater insight into the dynamic of the family/group. Overall, it is an enjoyable read, littered with potential catchphrases that manages to progress Ross’s story and set up future books. Paul Howard never lets his creation stand still.

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