The Pequod Review:
William Boyd is a fine writer, but the plot of Armadillo — about a self-absorbed but talented insurance adjuster — is an incoherent and unstructured mess. The immensely charming prose is enough to carry the novel anyway:
In these times of ours and we don’t need to be precise about the exact date — but anyway, very early in the year, a young man not much over thirty, tall — six feet plus an inch or two — with ink-dark hair and a serious-looking, fine-featured but pallid face, went to keep a business appointment and discovered a hanged man.
Lorimer Black stared aghast at Mr. Dupree, his mind at once clamorous with shocked alarm and curiously inert the warring symptoms of a form of mental panic, he supposed. Mr. Dupree had hanged himself from a thinly lagged water pipe that crossed the ceiling in the little anteroom behind reception. A small set of aluminum folding steps lay on its side beneath his slightly splayed feet (his tan shoes needed a good clean, Lorimer noticed). Mr. Dupree was simultaneously the first dead person he had encountered in his life, his first suicide and his first hanged man and Lorimer found this congruence of firsts deeply troubling.
His eyes travelled reluctantly upwards from Mr. Dupree’s scuffed toecaps, pausing briefly at the groin area where he could discern no sign of the fabled, impromptu erection of the hangee — and moved on up to his face. Mr. Dupree’s head was hunched too far over and his expression was slumped and sleepy, like that worn by exhausted commuters who doze off in overheated railway carriages, propped upright by badly designed banquettes. If you had seen Mr. Dupree snoozing opposite you on the 18.12 from Liverpool Street, his head canted over in that awkward position, you would have ached presciently for the stiff neck he was bound to experience on awakening.
Stiff neck. Cricked neck. Broken neck. Christ.