For the past week, I’ve been reviewing the books in the Stockholm Syndrome series by Richard Rider. Let’s recap: Book One introduced you to Lindsay Brown and Pip Valentine, who were brought together in the most violent of ways and continued to live together in a relationship worthy of a Quentin Tarantino film. In Book Two, said relationship took an extended break while both Lindsay and Pip figured out if they could get past some traumatic events or live without each other forever. Turns out, they couldn’t stay apart, which resulted in one of the sweetest reunions on record, in a Lindsay/Pip kind of a way.
No Beginning, No End picks up immediately following their reconciliation. Pip is still living with his parents following his break-up from Ollie, and Lindsay has moved to London to be close to him. Pip has the grand idea to start from the beginning, which means good old-fashioned dating. This results in a hilarious couple of evenings where two people who couldn’t be more different attempt to woo the other. Take, for instance, this scene where Pip and his uncomfortable dad attempt to choose an outfit that meets Lindsay’s instructions to “dress nice for dinner.”
“I might. . .” He trails off, scanning the room for anything that’s not crimson or hot pink. “Dunno. Can I get away with velvet jeans?”
“Yeah, if you wanna look like a pimp.”
“Pimps don’t wear skinnies, daddy.” He spots them and leans over the edge of the bed to grab at the cuff. “They’re black. I ain’t got much that’s black, might be okay.”
“There’s tons of black in here.”
“Yeah but. . .black satin, black tartan, black with sequins on it, black and feathers. . .”
For Pip’s turn, he takes Lindsay to a dance club, because he’s young and energetic and the complete opposite of Lindsay. These dates really demonstrate the heart of the matter — Pip and Lindsay are laughably different. The issue becomes whether or not Pip, who works at a tattoo parlor and moonlights as a drag queen, can make a life with Lindsay, who only leaves the house to work in the library or socialize with his equally stuffy friends.
The courtship comes to a quick end when Pip realizes he just wants to be with Lindsay and they begin their life together once again. This time, though, their life isn’t one suitable for an action film — it’s just real life. This means mending relationships with Pip’s parents (which includes a frank and poignant scene between Lindsay and Pip’s mom), figuring out how to keep both Ollie and Ellie in their lives, and solidifying the special bond between Pip and Lindsay’s mother through, of all things, a tattoo.
The genius of Richard Rider is that nothing really needs to happen. Days pass and lives are lived. Conflict arises and then settles again. The most intense scene of the book is nothing in comparison to the drama from the previous two. The real heart of this book is the changing relationship of Lindsay and Pip. Pip’s more mature and is introspective about his involvement with Lindsay in the past. The kink is still there, but it’s well-earned and based on love and trust. And if you like a little cross-dressing with your reading, there’s a scorching hot scene in a nightclub that will make you very happy.
The writing is stellar, the characters will burrow a way into your heart and psyche and the story will demand a reaction, whether good or bad. I no longer know how to convince you to read this book, but I hope you’ll take a chance and discover this brilliant piece of literature. You won’t be sorry.