DBC Pierre is known for writing thought-provoking, striking fiction, and his novel Breakfast with the Borgias is no exception. Fast-paced, emotive and chilling, it’s a thriller full of brilliant prose, irony and precise observations against a backdrop of unsettling incidents.
Ariel Panek was on his way to the Netherlands when his flight got diverted to England and he ends up in an old hotel on the southeast coast. As a computer scientist with “two laptops, a tablet, three kilos of cables and drives, and as Android device,” his inability to contact anyone due to the lack of signal and WiFi at the Cliffs Hotel unnerves him, especially in his modern world. His fellow guests, a family called the Borders, switch between welcoming and hostile, and as Ariel tries to leave the hotel to get to the Netherlands more and more obstacles are in his path. When he’s eventually able to borrow a phone from Gretchen, an alarmingly thin seventeen year old who scares the life out of him, to contact his girlfriend Zeva who travelled to Amsterdam on a different flight, it only adds more complications to his journey.
Meanwhile, Zeva Neely is waiting anxiously in Amsterdam for contact from her boyfriend Ariel. Having reluctantly agreed to go with him to Europe for the week, she’s waiting for him to arrive with very mixed emotions. Scared, excited, and angry with both herself and Ariel, she begins to figure out the reason why Ariel hasn’t made it to Amsterdam.
The reader is left to figure out what’s happening along with Ariel and Zeva, and once what’s going on becomes apparent, it seems obvious. Breakfast with the Borgias is chilling in places; the reader is frustrated when Ariel is frustrated, and DBC Pierre does an excellent job of capturing the mood of a scene and depicting it accurately.
Breakfast with the Borgias is a thriller with events that are mysterious as the people, clues that you don’t realise are clues till the end, and a heady mix of irony, comic prose, and unsettling occurrences and observations.