Friday, September 19, 2014

and yet more books read on a bus

hi there

well, that's another three books read (yay me), so you know the drill. it's time for some reviews, recaps or whatever you would like to call whatever it is i do here.

a word of warning - up front and in short, none were, alas, really as good as the last three i read, which i seem to recall mostly gathered rather good reviews from me. none of these were that bad, but i am not inclined to say "yeah, read this" to anyone. make up your own minds.

if that's the short version for you, then be warned, for after the picture of the three, **** SUPER DUPER SPOILER WARNINGS **** are in place for all further discussions of the novels. 

something, i suppose, of a mixed bag this time out. although i do try to avoid reading two or more similar themed or genre books in a row in some effort to try and avoid boredom or, frankly, getting confused by memories of one plot whilst reading another.

links, as usual, entirely for your own reference. i do not endorse purchasing from any particular place (except Old Grumpy's Gallery) and i certainly don't get paid to promote any particular retailer.

my copy of Where The Dead Lay was a gift from a good friend. also a generous one, considering the prices some copies fetch, as we shall see just now in more details if you cannot be bothered to click on the link there. if only, dear reader, it was as good as the value of some copies of it suggest.

plot? an ex-cop who is now some sort of poor man's private detective studies all that kung fu stuff. his kung fu sensei, or whatever it is, gets killed. ex-cop decides to investigate, uncovers bigger crime thing, blah blah blah.

at a superficial level this book is a reasonably entertaining Elmore Leonard "tribute". a tribute, alas, that lacks the credibility or plausibility of a Leonard novel. the gaping plot holes and logical leaps of faith one must cover to get any sort of enjoyment from the novel are, frankly, preposterous. you all saw the spoiler warning, yeah?

what leaps and jumps? how about the girlfriend of the dead karate master (or whatever) has a violent ex that has been stalking her, forcing her to move home. the ex-cop detective and the incumbent police officers decide not to bother asking who he is or looking for him for some 300 pages, around about the time that Mr Levien decides to bring the tale to a close. also, one is expected to believe that some family of criminals in whatever city this was set in (somewhere in America) could overtake the whole of the illegal gambling activities in the state without anyone noticing. no matter how violent they overtaking gets.

any other problems? well, the characterisations would be rejected by a daytime soap opera for being too flimsy. and, rather infuriatingly, the narrative keeps slipping in to the slang wording of different characters in different chapters, despite it being written in the third person.

and yet, oddly, it was a halfway decent read. it did the job on the bus, as in i didn't get bored or tired of its pedestrian plodding as i went on my travels.

it is not, dear reader, worth the somewhat high prices it is currently on offer for over on amazon in regards of the paperback edition i have.

the 1p, or 23p if you are flash, hardback edition should be enough for you. trust me. the low-ish number of copies available suggests it is quite a rare book to find, however, so happy days for whoever buys this from whichever charitable organization gets it to sell after my Aunty has seen if she wants a read. no, not that one, the other one.

for a change of pace, then, i decided to read The Kill List by Frederick "not Bruce" Forsyth. this was a Father's Day present that i might have pointed at in the shop Sharpy likes.

if for some reason you are unaware of who "not Bruce" is, well, he wrote the rather brilliant The Day Of The Jackal. these days he does a fair bit of writing for that newspaper called the Daily Express, the readers of which are mostly rather enthusiastic for the somewhat straightforward way "not Bruce" would fix all wrongs in the world.

plot? mostly it's a "secret government body" with limitless resources and exceptional immunity who go around killing people that are on a "kill list" set by none other than the President of the US. totes, dudes, fully. there is, by the way, absolutely no plane killing action in the book, so yeah, the cover picture is something of a mystery.

it's all exceptionally simplistic and clear cut, really. civilians will of course help strange shady Americans that turn up and throw an awful lot of expensive equipment at them. tribal elders will always happily sell out the "bad eggs" in their village as and when an American comes along and ask. middle aged Muslim men will sell out angry young Muslim militants for an awful lot of money, but of course they will die as a consequence of this. a terrorist that has been hiding and evaded capture for over a decade will be caught within a few days, all it took was the President "expressing an interest" in stopping him, eventually.

there are many to the right of me that would love the world to work this way, something of a return, if you like, to an oversimplified version of the Cold War, in which, for them, none of these non-whites dared speak out of turn, and the only people who suffered "were commies anyway". for me, this was basically just as entertaining as a stupid war movie, or something as ludicrous as, say, The Eiger Sanction. predictable, but to a degree enjoyable so long as you remind yourself not to take it all too seriously.

i think i posted about Eeny Meeny when i bought it. purchasing it with a voucher at that shop Sharpy goes to reduced the price to the effect that, in real if not actual terms, the proprietor paid me to read this.

plot? someone keeps kidnapping two people and giving them a terrible choice. a lady copper, who is secretive but somewhat kinky, is on the case. some corrupt cops and a few personal issues are thrown in. and that's about that.

basically, this book is Fifty Shades Of Prime Suspect, underlined by the lady copper - if you like the "protagonist" - being called Helen.

is it any good? sometimes it goes a bit too coarse and graphic, but mostly it was OK. the structure, that of 3 - 4 page chapters, is rather handy for bus journey reading if like me you don't like stopping reading mid-chapter, but it also makes the whole flow of the novel very, very wonky indeed, not really allowing for all that much of substantial character development or plot involvement to happen. some plot holes have to be crossed, and some really, really preposterous leaps of faith in regards of plausibility need to be taken to buy into the story.

MJ Arlidge has another novel out, featuring Helen. i know this as it is plastered all over this book as advertising. knowing this also more or less removes the majority of tension and suspense from the novel, for you know that kinky lady copper lives to investigate another day.

not bad, and likely to be sold to make some sort of "raunchy, controversial and provocative" miniseries at some point in the not too distant future. just as soon, presumably, as they can find someone convincingly Helen Mirren like to play the lead.

strange. three books that were far from satisfactory, and yet weirdly were reasonably enjoyable and entertaining to read. assuming my reviews have not spoiled the content too much, if you were to pick any of them up i doubt you would be disappointed, but i cannot honestly say you should actively try and pick any of them up.

i actually think i need to go and find some more James Herbert novels, or perhaps re-read the brilliant Doctor Sleep by Stephen King. i still, however, have a substantial stash of books here, but i seem to have novels that are either "ancient mystery solved in days" or "crime". i may have reached a bit of a saturation point with both of them, i fear.

a preview of what i will be reading next is the custom, and far be it from my good self to break that custom. at least this is what i plan to read next. i note it is endorsed by someone called Lee Child, who was rather enthusiastic about endorsing Where The Dead Lay. i think maybe Lee Child and i might disagree, to a degree, about books.

but hey ho, i bought it for, as you can see, a rather reasonable price from that shop that Sharpy likes so much. i might as well go ahead and give it a go, i suppose.

i'm actually thinking about reading all that Fifty Shades Of Grey stuff on the bus, though. for no reason other than to see if i attract any sort of comment or conversation.

yeah, indeed that is a new shirt i have on in this picture. it was on sale in that shop where they do clothes for dudes who are even bigger than i am. boss, this new shirt is. except the sleeves are rather too long for my liking. for some reason the maker of the shirt thought i might be Mr Tickle, or him that does all that rubber band stuff in that film with the fella made of rocks, and that lad that sets his arse on fire. and the invisible woman. and that dude with the metal face. can't remember the name of it, but it was a decent, if not fantastic, film.

anyway, that will do for now.

once again, and as ever, if this has been of any use or interest to anyone, far out man.

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