Wednesday, September 03, 2014
bus book reading round up
well, that will be a further three books read on the bus, so it's review time. and yes, regular readers, i was able to complete these three novels somewhat faster due to the prolonged trip yesterday, when the driver took a bizarre detour.
for the obligatory pictures to go with the reviews, insights, comments or whatever you would like to call what it is i do here, i figured why not, it is nearly Christmas, let us do them in Commodore 64 mode for your viewing pleasure. don't thank me, it's my pleasure.
here are the three i have recently read, then.
general, non-spoiler sort of overview? all three were really rather good, with the odd problem here and there. overall, i suspect i might be getting a touch tired of the "centuries old mystery which people will kill to keep secret resolved in hours by fluke and accident" genre. which would be very bad news indeed for Dan Brown if he wishes to unleash another of his (ahem) masterpieces on us any time soon.
wow, scrolling text and C64 mode pictures. lucky you. and on that note, then, time to have a look at the books in some further detail. amazon links purely for ease of reference, no plug intended.
The Book Of Lies is one which nearly did not get picked up. it was by that Brad Meltzer, look you see, who did that other one i read a while ago, The Tenth Justice. that novel was not a particularly enjoyable tale, but there was something very good indeed about the style of writing. something that was, apparently, enough to draw me back.
i am glad that it did, really. yeah, on one level it's yet another Da Vinci Code "inspired" rip off sort of thing, except it's better. a good story combines with the excellent writing style to give a thoroughly enjoyable read.
plot? i am not sure i want to give that much away. the book in question in the title is of apparent Biblical provenance, but maybe not so much how you think. it takes a spin via another famous book, of sorts, and, well, there's all sorts of shooting, shouting, races against time, shady organizations, good guys forced to be on the run, that sort of thing. written, and i cannot emphasise this enough, really well. it has the usual twists, for sure, but it also has some rather unexpected - and plausible twists and turns that kept me going.
i would give Book Of Lies a "must read" sticker, if i had such stickers. what is most fascinating of all is the author's note thing at the end. how the book started off, and what Mr Melzter had intended to do, is just as interesting as the novel it instead became.
the ending (see spoiler note) is partially sentimental, i suppose, or "soft", but i really liked the conclusion it drew. and i hope, since i do not hand out "must read" advice all that often, that you do too.
a quick break, then, for the boys in Commodore 64 mode, since they were about whilst i had it on the go.
on to the next novel, then, which is a rarity for me - a lady writer of books, no less, in the form of Val McDermid. a full on lady too, since the book goes to exceptional lengths to point out that she is one of them real, genuine lesbian lady ones. not a matter i care about at all, to be honest - dig what you dig, man, and get on with your life. however, it seems important to some, so there you go.
The Retribution is, announced with the same level of pride as her lesbian status, the 25th novel that Val McDermid has written, or had published at the least. i had not read any of her other books, but that could well change, as this was frankly brilliant.
i knew nothing about her as such, except the thing mentioned all over the book, but whenever i mentioned her to anyone and said that the book says she created some sort of TV series called Wire In The Blood, people have gone on to great and enthusiastic lengths to tell me of the brilliance of that show. so i may have to look around for that too.
plot? there's a serial killer knocking off prostitutes in peculiar and seemingly random ways. there's also a deranged celebrity who was arrested for sex crimes that has managed to escape prison (in a truly brilliant way, even better than getting your brother to cover himself in tattoos and shoot a gun in a bank) and is looking for, as the title suggests, retribution in the direction of those he holds responsible for sending him to prison. everyone, then, except the person who did all of them crimes.
this was a super thrilling read. the tale falls from the pages and into your mind. graphic, crisp, clear descriptions. characters who have clearly appeared in other novels, but you missed nothing at all by starting off with this one. except maybe the plot of some earlier novels are done and dusted, which may take some of the suspense away when i read them. but no matter.
you all saw the spoiler warning, yeah?
there is something of a problem with this novel. it gets to a point where you notice there's under 40 pages left, right, and in that space they still need to solve two crimes and apprehend the naughty types, and there are several relationship issues that it might be appropriate to address. all and none of this happens. relationship issue solving is clearly held over for the next volume, and the way in which crimes and criminals were, or perhaps were not, resolved, carried all the sense of an afterthought, as if the resolution was not that important.
if that's the case, then surely they should have been sacrificed at the expense of character and relationship resolution happening, which alas did not. or was i simply expecting too much in that all of the plot strains thrown at me should be tied together?
must read status? possibly, dear reader, it might be a very good idea to start off with the earlier novels of the lady of made clear sexual tastes. perhaps if i had read the earlier tales of the psychologist profiler dude (Tony something i think) and the gritty lady copper (Carol something i think) then some of the resolved/unresolved character and relationship issues may have made more sense. still, from my side, a thrilling read, one that i enjoyed (as dark and graphic as it got from time to time) and one i would have no hesitation in saying to someone "yes, read, it was very good indeed".
The Sacred Sword features this Ben Hope fella, who has been in one or two novels i have read and reviewed here. i think i am now somewhat tired of Ben's adventures.
plot? Ben is visiting friends (again). Ben's friends end up getting killed (again). Bens's friends were (again) involved in unravelling some mystery that has been kept secret for centuries. a shady organization (again) is also keen to get to the secret, and have unlimited resources and a proclivity to kill to get it (again).
Scott Mariani goes to great lengths to keep secret the sacred sword in question, but as vicars and that are running around looking for it, you can pretty much guess who it supposedly belonged to. how plausible or possible the origins are would be a matter i have no idea about, and little interest in finding out.
usually the selling point, or level of interest, of this sort of novel is that the action bits, the thrills, the chase and what have you, are utterly preposterous but all the same fun, with the importance being that they are enjoyable to read. that didn't happen so much with this novel, alas.
in the end, i think i read this one in just over 3 days of bus trips more to get it over and done with rather than out of any sense of enjoyment. i have i believe one, possibly two, more Ben Hope adventures sat waiting to be read. my experiences with The Sacred Sword has seen them, or it, moved to the bottom of the pile.
so, there you go. two really fine, indeed superb novels, and one that could well have felt more tired and pedestrian that it maybe actually is, purely because i may well be at saturation point with these epic, nonsensical thrillers.
i have not worked that out on the iTwat, to tell the truth. when you use the camera that faces you, right, it does a sort of mirror effect. i presume this made some sort of sense to someone at Apple, or it was an unusual fault in their product that, for a change, they simply decided not to bother with fixing.
perhaps it has all something to do with all them ladies that have uploaded pictures to something called an iCloud and discovered, again in an out of character moment, that the security Apple reckoned was in place was perhaps not all that it could have been? no, i do not have whatever an iClould thing is myself, for the obvious reason that it sounds completely and utterly spaz. i might, in the light of recent events, set one up, thought. other than allowing me to sound indignant (whatever the hell that is) and generate some much needed publicity for my sensational life, to me the idea of someone finding my C64 pictures as they are hoping to hack the account of Kathy Bates, or whoever, is exciting.
right, that's that for now, then. i can only hope that some of these reviews have been of interest, if not use, to one, two or more of you. whatever you are reading, hope you are enjoying it!
be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!