Eddie Temple (Michael Gambon), who was not reprised in Viva La Madness.

Sidney (Ben Whishaw) and Tammy (Sienna Miller) who also weren’t reprised.

Near the start of Layer Cake, [xxxx] and Morty go to lunch with Geno and Jimmy Price at Pepe’s Barn.  As far as we are concerned, that scene and the conversation between [xxxx] and Price at lunch, and then in the bathroom, were outstanding, having perfectly conveyed the path of the book, overall.  They are just two scenes of many outstanding ones in Layer Cake, as Connolly is most genius at language, obviously proving that out with giant scenes for Eddy Temple, and Geno and frankly, most of the people who had speaking parts.  When [xxxx] gets kidnapped and filled in?  Phenomenal.  And then again, when Eddy fills [xxxx] in with the layer cake speech at the end.  And then, in the movie, [xxxx] shows why he’s already up the layer cake farther than Mr. Temple knows, or Mr. Ryder, in the movie.  You know we are bigger on the movie’s ending, where he leaves with a leg up, than the book’s most disappointing outcomes.  And you know why.  So we’ll not get into that, though as always, I would certainly entertain comments, as it has become a spirited discussion between the fans of the book.

There was no big setup moment.  Or good setup moment.  And frankly, we thought the first 100 pages were extremely tedious and uninteresting.  But the sequel, Viva La Madness, a good ten years in arriving after Layer Cake, perhaps got it done in other ways, as we have walked away about as best we could be satisfied with a story in which Connolly skunked nearly a dozen worthy characters.  It bothers us also that he didn’t really write any that were that stirring either.  Viva La Madness opens slowly and leaves you wanting for old characters.  Look, I think you knew I’d be honest.  Gene, Mr. Temple/Mr. Ryder, Tammy, Trevor & Shanks, Tiptoes, Billy Bogus, and many of the flashback characters, in the very least, were all compelling characters who all the fans have really gotten attached to.  How could you not?

Here’s another thing, while we are airing the complaints.  It doesn’t sound like him in all parts.  I don’t really know what’s going on there.  But Connolly was using phrases that seemed out of character.  Again, comment me on that if you like.  It would be too difficult to explain and we do not wish to be so overly critical.  We said what we needed to say on that.

But the book does start to satisfy.  And when you are in full clip, you are reading this beast furiously.  Because Connolly is that kind of writer.  He writes a good, compelling, fun story.  And because the characters are a bit too drab or a bit too “heads the balls”, you want the two good characters, our man [xxxx] and Mr. Mortimer to win more than ever.  Anything else will be indecent.  And that is what we always said from the start was the problem from the first book, then corrected in the movie, and then seen to not need correcting in the new novel.  The good guys win.  Finally.

And they get laid.  On my word, [xxxx] gets laid, finally, and the pussy is very good.  That’s great.  We who are rooting for him want him to get laid.  So they gave us that as well.  The book is really not as colorful as the first.  It’s also not as black and white.  It’s quite grey, in fact.  And that should be one’s outlook, and perhaps not so black and white.  Remember, they are commodities traders, and they do make fair compensation.  It is a business at which men like them are successful.  That they do not complete the $100M score, and only come out with a several million dollar score is really nothing to cry about.  This book goes down over a period of about twenty days.  So if you are getting 3M to walk away with, you have been fairly compensated for those twenty days worth of work, especially if you are already a murderous drug dealer.

We have to say we really like it.  We liked the ending.  More grey.  That black and white first book, was really tainted in our mind, by the ending.  You don’t have that here.  The characters we like are rich and safe.  Yay.  The plot is well developed, and complicated, and it is a real page turner.  Exactly what you want.  But we just weren’t feeling these new characters.  We are sure that Connolly and Vaughn will punch them up better if/when the movie becomes a reality.  So we are not gonna cry about that.  If a book is not perfect you are going to have to live with some flaws.  Connolly might have had the one truly great story that made Layer Cake the lightning bolt it was.  That is not going to be easy to duplicate.  But it’s a good sequel to Layer Cake and was well worth buying and reading and anticipating as we did.

Smiler’s alright, but the Venezuelans and the other Brit’s were just brutal, not interesting.  Sonny and Roy? The Toff?  Ih.  He’s alright.  Ted Granger?  Not really impressed.  But this book was funny, and was compelling from about page 100 through to the end.  We did not expect this book to be better than or equal to Layer Cake.  As we have suggested, that may be impossible for Connolly.  But if you like this kind of fiction, drug crime fiction, it’s really the only game in town, and the very big boys who Connolly describes are doing very similar things to the things that Connolly describes, especially in business.

So we have to say kudos.  We were immediately satisfied.  We sat on writing this for many months, as we read it fairly immediately upon release.  And our opinion hasn’t changed any.  We’ve seen a lot of people reading the ‘Layer Cake Sequel Approaches’ post, so we may as well let you know our thoughts.

Viva La Madness should be a satisfying read for Connolly fans.  And they should want to see it on the big screen, where once again, the book will outdo the movie.  But we say all this while fully acknowledging that Connolly is a master in the genre, and we have to thank him for bringing some compelling stories to us.  Thanks JJC.  But if we could suggest for next time, please bring back some of the old guard.  There would be no questions as to any book’s interest level with some of those characters in the mix.

Crack (http://crackbillionair.wordpress.com)