This book is part thriller, part farce, part Don Quixote, and has plenty of excellent writing.
Harry Christmas is drunk and on the run. He intends to bury a book of poetry on the beach in his late wife’s homeland of Venezuela as a loving last act for his Emily. But he's also running from his fiancee's deranged stepson, since he just ripped off the money she deposited in a joint bank account for their future life together. Not surprisingly, he's finally running from himself. Gibson has created an antihero of significant proportions: 58 years old, a quick wit and intellect addled by booze, bloated and raging against The Rot—“that corroding plasma of infantilisation”—which translates to anything and everything Harry sees wrong with the world. He is, in fact, running on empty. After skipping out of an elegant Caracas hotel, he takes up with Judith Lamb, an eccentric Englishwoman who sculpts penises, lying his way into her home and her bed by posing as the British author Harry Strong, whom she adores. Life with Judith is like paradise for Harry, and he even manages a running battle with her suspicious daughter, who shows up unexpectedly, but he has to go on the run again when William Slade, the maniacal avenger, appears hot on his trail. As Harry runs, bad things happen to people who trust his lies, and as he finds his wife’s hometown and falls in love with a magnificent character named Lola Rosa, disaster looms again. Judith describes the Harry she knows as “a pompous old sod but he’s got a good heart.” Her daughter pictures him as “a selfish, self-satisfied, wholly unlikable wanker.” Lola Rosa sums up a third perspective: "Aloe Vera is a special plant. If you have enemies, if someone hate you, the Aloe Vera absorb the bad energy. Since you come these two [plants] have died.” Take your pick of Harry Christmas.
Gibson has created a larger-than-life character in Harry Christmas—who is many things but not Santa Claus, thank you very much.