Friday, August 15, 2014

books of bus and bed

hi there

well, you know the drill by now. the entirely arbitrary number of three further books have been read, so time for some catch up reviews. i think three works, as i can more or less remember the details of the first of the, as it were, trilogy, by the time i sit down and write them.

what, or which, three books did i read this time? well, here you go, accentuated by their presence on top of my drill box (not an euphemism) .

overall? three pretty good books, really. actually one exceptional, in truth. all of them, however, have things rather counting against them which prevent a general "must read" status being awarded to all of them. i suppose, though, that's the purpose of one of these "review" type things. as ever, if any of these help you decide to read or not read these titles, splendid. links included purely for ease of reference.

i shall try to limit them as far as i can, but do be warned, in a non-scrolling sense, that *** SPOILER WARNINGS *** are in place for the remainder of this review. to recap overall then, all three are worth a look at the least.

starting off with a book that had the double advantage of being hailed as "the Danish crime novel of the decade" and costing only £1 from that shop that sells things for a pound,  The Dinosaur Feather just looked far too interesting not to give a try to. on yeah, link to amazon page if you want.

my thoughts are that in whichever decade this was released there were not too many other Danish crime novels to provide much competition, really. that, or what constitutes as "the most heinous crimes ever" over wherever it is the Danish live (Switzerland or somewhere, probably) is somewhat lighter in nature and tone that you would find in the rest of the world.

one has the feeling that the only reason this got translated and sold was because of the remarkable similarities - in the way the novel goes, not so much plot and what have you - the book has to all that Dragon Tattoo business. yes, i know they were from a different country, thanks, but clearly their neighbours were somewhat inspired to produce and publish rather similar styled books. to that end, this novel is filled with long, drawn out details and explanations, paying particular attention to providing hefty background stories for most of the main characters. these add very little to the plot as such, but are admittedly quite interesting.

what is the plot? an odd one to just quickly sum up, in truth. a single mother is doing a degree or PhD thing (apparently on a whim) and some people die. her research, into if birds are dinosaurs or not, is apparently controversial, so much so that there is a suspicion that the deaths are murders related to it.

it's not actually as exciting as that plot rundown might suggest. at times it felt laboured, and indeed as some can testify i did do some moaning that i was apparently punishing myself by reading it. for as long and as drawn out as the novel is, it's strangely compelling, and you want to read the whole thing.

a novel i was somewhat cautious about approaching was The Roswell Conspiracy. this reluctance was not so much born of doubts about this whole aliens in America thing, but from prior experience of Boyd Morrison. i read his first novel, Noah's Ark Quest, and there may be a review of it here somewhere on this blog. it was preposterous beyond entertaining, as in it was just ridiculous. however, it was also on offer as part of one of them 3 for £5 deals, so i gave it a go.

as it turned out, good move. yes, it features a recurring "hero" off of the first novel, Tyler or something, and it seems that i missed out a novel in-between the two, something to do with King Midas. that it was part of a series, however, did not seem to matter - quite happily self contained, with only passing references to previous adventures, and no prior knowledge of plot or character details being required. pay attention, all you novelists that insist on doing many novels with the same characters and not thinking that all of the novel might not be available to the ardent bus traveller such as my good self.

plot? not at all as alien-centric as you might suspect, really. someone has a map from Roswell - which might have come off of aliens - which reveals where on Earth a substance is hidden. this substance is an incredible power source. needless to say, quite a few are interested in getting this and, indeed, are quite prepared to kill to get it.

yes, it's all a Da Vinci Code / National Treasure type thing of running around the world, solving codes, finding hidden things and solving mysteries. it is, however, really well done. almost restrained in comparison to the excesses of Noah's Ark Quest, really - still preposterous in parts, but not to the point of too far into the realm of ridiculous.

i am pretty sure you could pick this up and read it without reading the other two novels before, and if you like all of that adventure stuff, well then, this is for you. if you are wanting to get this because of the "alien conspiracy" angle, you are however likely to be disappointed.

finally, then, a tricky one to give a review to, without giving away too much. this is made all the more tricky by the fact that this is one of the finest novels i have ever read.

if you browse around the web, you will discover Snow Hill gets average to poor reviews for the most part. this is a great shame, but i know why. there are "things" that happen in this that some would prefer not to read of as being something that happened in the 1930s, for they feel more comfortable assuming they are modern "perversions" and it distorts their argument of how everything was much better in the past.

things happen in this novel that are unsettling, disturbing, gruelling and, in truth, stomach churning. this happens because of the actions themselves, of course, but enhanced by the fact that this Mark Sanderson is one incredibly gifted writer. i know exactly at which point in this novel many felt uncomfortable and decided that they didn't actually like this thoroughly well written story. if that's down to prejudice or just how brutal it is would be something i would not speculate on or indeed judge.

plot? a journalist gets a tip off that a member of the constabulary has been killed. the constabulary, however, denies this. investigative journalism and a superb, keeps you guessing crime thriller follows, then, and one that plunges some murky depths of the darker sides of life and tastes.

how good is this book? i would say that the only think stopping this novel being translated into an award winning mini-series is the fear that the likes of the BBC have of presenting people of "a certain lifestyle" as being criminal, for they simply get accused of generalisation and stereotyping. these accusations are rubbish of course, because i would like to think that audiences are intelligent enough to not conclude "well one person of a certain nature is a criminal, so they all must be". sure, it will reinforce the existing prejudices of some, but not create them.

Snow Hill is certainly not for all, but i thought it was brilliant, as unsettling and disturbing as it was when it twisted and turned certain ways. if you like crime / investigation thrillers, don't assume that all was wine and roses in "the good old days" and can handle some truly graphic, disturbing scenes, this is one you should give some consideration to.

wow. rare that i hit three good books in a row! oh, as for the title, i have not been at verk for full weeks of late, so have been reading at home as well as on the bus. if, for some reason, you were curious about the title of this post.

what will i be reading next? a preview is something of a given, so here you go.

i grabbed that one off the pile somewhat at random. it looks like it might be good, but there's only one way to find out if it is. and, indeed, i shall do that.

happy reading!

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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