Friday, February 06, 2015


hello there

yes, as the title suggests, time for another two book reviews. which, as discussed or mentioned by me earlier in the year (if you mentioned it sorry i didn't hear) will be the standard for now. why? well, my reading upon the bus has dropped off some, look you see. usually i only get to read on a morning. so best i review two whilst they are relatively fresh in my mind.

which two are to be under review this time? well, here, you have a look.

a quickfire review for you, that is entirely free of spoilers? sure. The Murder Bag is predictable and not really outstanding in an overcrowded genre of sinister murder crimes in England, but was a thoroughly enjoyable read. The Jerusalem Puzzle is curiously anonymous - not good, not bad, offers much, delivers little and seems to be a sequel to what would have been a really, really dull book.

a more in depth, quite possibly referencing spoilers sort of thing reviews to follow after this picture i took this morning for your viewing pleasure.

yes, that is indeed daybreak happening, so to speak, to accentuate and in many respects feed the melting of the snow that still lingers in our part of the world. the snow has all but gone now, which probably means we are due some more falling shortly. but you are not here for comments on snow, dear reader, you want to learn of these books.

links are, as ever, entirely for your convenience. i do not endorse or promote one seller over the other, and nor do i do the affiliate thing. i link to the corporate behemoth that is amazon purely as they ship worldwide, and for some reason people from all over the world take the time to read this. and thank you for doing so.

The Murder Bag by Tony Parsons is, i believe, my second encounter with the Parsons. i am all but convinced i read Man And Boy at some point. this, however, is a bit different, as it is him going all billy ho, let's have a go at a crime thing. as the Parsons has very vocally said his "foreseeable future" is liked to the protagonist he introduces here, best it be a good story to start with, then. and it is, kind of.

plot? some gruesome murders are happening. there is no link at all between the victims, except for one really obvious one that the police elect to ignore until such a point that Parsons remembers these are trained and educated police officers and allows them to see the obvious link. at the heart of the investigation is, yes, the new protagonist that the Parsons is committed to, a DC Max Wolfe; someone introduced to us with a most peculiar method of determining who is and who is not a terrorist and how best to deal with that terrorist with as simple and as effective a tool as a car. oh yes, indeed it does reference that backpacker getting shot thing from a few years ago, and indeed certain other crimes and "incidents" get referenced, only presented in the way that the Parsons believes that they should have been dealt with. which, surprisingly, is a little bit more to the right of a wing that one might have expected him to be.

for readers of cop thriller / murder mystery / detective / who did it and why sort of books, there is absolutely nothing new here. the clues, the set up and the premise are predictable to the point of being pedestrian. and yet, weirdly, that's what makes it a good read. the Parsons seems to be aware that there's no point pretending he has come up with the best ever guess who did it sort of thing, and so rides with that, instead concentrating on making the novel as good as it can be instead of writing it as something which it is not.

weirdly, i like the Parsons. always have. i think it stems from the fact that he is very knowledgable about A Clockwork Orange and has always spoken a lot of sense about the subject. do i care for his journalism? not really, but then also i do not believe it is quite the easy target that the Viz make it in practically every edition these days.

yes, the Parsons does get a little distracted and carried away with his prose from time to time.

the relentless pushing of himself annoys some. he is someone that you could genuinely see doing a memoir at some point called Tony Parsons presents Tony Parsons on Tony Parsons by Tony Parsons. but then, why not? if you are not going to have confidence in yourself, to plug and promote what you yourself do, then there is little point of you doing it and less chance of you standing out in an oh so crowded, er, crowd.

actually it turns out i know a good deal more about the Parsons than i thought, and i wish i did not. reading the book was clouded somewhat by knowing which editors, politicians, lady journalists (oh yes, that one) and well known people he was all too blatantly referencing at times.

when James Cameron announced he was dedicating the rest of his film career to the world of Avatar it was the most depressing thing ever. he is a gifted, talented filmmaker who makes movies with as much character and heart as action. except Avatar, which was dull, soulless sh!t. the Parsons dedicating himself to this Max Wolfe thing is, by contrast, to me, exciting. it was a really good read, and i am very much looking forward to the next books featuring this character.

if you like all that detective and crime stuff, do without hesitation get The Murder Bag. it will not surprise or stun you, but it shall most certainly not disappoint either.

over on the ereader, by the way, i read that Gray Mountain by John Grisham. i like the Grisham, but this is him being lazy a bit too far. it's really "cannot be bothered anonymous". i cannot remember much at all of it beyond "corporate lawyers doing billable hours forget the importance of law to the everyday man and the poor, blah blah blah". basically, it's part of a good book that he simply couldn't be arsed to write. and why should he? he gets paid anyway and people buy it no matter how bothered he was with it. 

and on to a book bought for all of 50p from W H Smith, a store a partial reader of this blog really loves. does 50p reflect the true value of The Jerusalem Puzzle at all? no, that would be unkind and rather crass. it was not, however, anything special.

plot? it seems to follow on from a book about Istanbul or something. key points from that book, whatever the hell it is, are relevant here, but covered so well in the first few pages that there is no need to get the original. unless for some reason you wanted more background on the two exceptionally dull central characters.

it's sort of all Da Vinci Code territory, with ancient texts and symbols all of a sudden being discovered, interpreted and somehow threatening the very fabric of the world we apparently know right now. oddly, this one was a little bit more intelligent and plausible at heart, due to a frustratingly under developed plot element showing that the only reason someone was eager to bring this change about was for exactly why such a thing would happen in the real world - money. but sadly we get very little of that, and very much - too much - of the dull characters who theoretically drive the plot along.

i don't regret reading it, as it was enjoyable enough on the bus, but also i was not exactly inspired or enthralled with it at all. if you live a life where "inspired by Da Vinci Code success" is a major factor in your selection of what you read, then this is at least a better one from what is now not so much a cottage industry as it is a village industry fast turning into a town.

this picture, doing the rounds on that facebook thing, is what illegal electricity connections look like. they are indeed as f*****g dangerous to rig up as that looks, and they are causing crippling damage to the electricity grid in South Africa. but i suggest you ignore this, as the authorities there most certainly are as they run around blaming apartheid for the collapse of all infrastructure.

what am i reading on the ereader now? Once..., by James Herbert. not finished it yet, but wow. for a change it features the protagonist going to an old, strange, mystical house - a plot device which he has only use in four of the other five novels of his i have read. in the other novels i have read, Mr Herbert was kind enough to slide in one or two of his more lurid sexual fantasies as part of the story. not so much the case here, folks, in which he seems to have sort of sellotaped the idea of a story onto the side of a wild collection of his most epic and bizarre sexual fantasies. a particular highlight so far was the three - possibly four - chapters he dedicated to the protagonist, in conjunction with a goblin or leprechaun and some faeries, battling a horny lady monkey type of thing over the right to own, and i am not making this up, a plastic cup partially filled with spunk. if that last sentence upset you, do bear in mind that it is a sentence which will have seen Spiros abandon reading this and go off to find a copy. meanwhile, i can't wait to see what the final battle of the book is.

actually i think i have by accident reviewed four books here. hey ho. here, as is custom, are the backs of the two paperbacks i read on the bus.

what am i reading next? not sure. possibly a Peter Robinson novel, as i still have two from the set my Aunty (no, the other one) got me for Christmas, plus one i picked up for the same price as the Parsons one off of the cigarette counter at Morrisons.

nice one if any or all of these comments and reviews have been of some use to you!

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