Edition: Penguin, 1999
Review number: 1014
The world of insurance is not really a very exciting one, but Boyd has managed to make it so in his novel about fraud and pretence. It concentrates on the profession which clearly has the greatest propensity for drama within the field, the insurance adjuster (who checks whether big claims that worry insurance companies are valid - leading here to suicides, death threats and assaults).
The central character is Lorimer Black, who starts the novel by discovering the body of a hanged man, driven to suicide by an insurance company's unwillingness to pay, is perhaps the most honest character in the novel, and he has created an entire new background for himself, disassociating himself from his Romanian origins. The plot is very complicated, but not too much so for enjoyment - the novel has made it to TV in a virtually unsimplified form without being impossible to follow.
Armadillo is a very well written, darkly funny novel, hopefully typical of Boyd, who is now going on my list of authors to read more from.