I don’t review much golf fiction because it can be a difficult genre to master. There is a tricky balance the author needs to find between a story line that moves at the correct pace, developing the depth of the characters enough but not overdoing it, and including enough golf content to be interesting without crossing the line to making it pedantic or overwrought.
Robert Brown perfects the golf novel in his new book Mayhem at The Open. He sets the novel in St. Andrews Scotland, and his broad knowledge of the home of golf and life in the Scottish countryside creates a rich backdrop to the story. His characters are interesting and developed to just the right degree. While some golf books fall into the trap of trying to overdo a round of golf (there is nothing more boring than hearing about every shot and how crisp an iron shot was struck), Brown knows when to zoom in on the action and recount shots and when to speed up the action. The story is full of several expected twists and turns and in no sense follows a predictable narrative. I have found that in most golf fiction there is a predictable story line and you can figure out where the plot is going well before you get there. Not here. I especially like the details he drops throughout the story about the lifestyle of the wee bonnie country that only a connoisseur who has spent a great deal of time there can develop.
Brown has a PhD in Psychology and it shows in the story. There are several poignant passages where he provides nuggets of life wisdom, in a way that is not in any sense forced. Part of the message of Mayhem at the Open is how important respect for the game’s traditions and past are, which is important to emphasize as the game becomes more and more commercialized.
Brown has written over a dozen books including half a dozen about golf. This is the first time I have read his work and based on the delight I received from Mayhem I plan to explore more. I look forward to seeing Kevin, Foot and Gloria again in the future.
To view the book on Amazon, click on the image below: