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Books Editorial

nogooddeed.jpg No Good Deed

John Niven, William Heinemann

We hate it when our friends become successful, Morrissey once sang, and the lyric is referenced in John Niven’s latest in which Alan encounters Craig, an old friend he’s not seen in years, one day in Soho. But while Alan is a successful food critic, occasional TV star and author of several books in the mode of AA Gill, Craig has fallen on hard times and is now begging in the streets. Alan takes Craig to the Groucho club (reckoning that the people there will simply mistake him for an eccentric artist in his scruffy attire) before inviting him to stay for a few days in his home. Alan’s well-to-do wife, and children, are pretty accommodating but, needless to say, as Craig’s stay becomes elongated, the wheels start to come off. Some of the clichés of middle class existence, and the uniformly awful media muppets, feel a little off the peg, but there is much broad comedy to enjoy here, and the author nicely sketches the ebbs and flows of friendship in all of its petty vaingloriousness.