Sunday, June 21, 2015

books on the bus, and indeed train

hi there

bus rides cannot be all about listening to some smart vibes, dear reader. just as you very much are a dear reader i dearly like to read, and my travels to and from verk via public transport provide me with time to do so, look you see.

as i've finished off another two novels in the last two weeks, time to do a bit of a review thing on the off chance that they inspire or warn people away from reading books that have either interested them or they've not heard of before.

a quick look at the two i have most recently read? sure.

quick, spoiler free reviews of both? i know not of the film version of Child 44, but i can say the novel is superb, should you allow yourself the pleasure of overlooking certain convenient and contrived moments. Shattered Icon would appear to have been rushed to print to cash in on that whole Da Vinci Code business around the dawn of the 21st century, but that should not be held against it.

onwards to sort of fuller reviews, then, with the obligatory *** POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD *** warning in place. links to books are for convenience alone, and are not an endorsement or affiliation from me as to where, if you choose to do so, you should purchase from. 

i first encountered Tom Rob Smith earlier this year, when Morrisons cigarette counter was happy to sell me a novel called The Farm for £3.99. a number of people i mentioned this to immediately mentioned how they had wished to read his debut novel, Child 44. this is a wish i have lived, then.

plot? Soviet Russia, middle of the last century. the Soviet version of the constabulary, which sounds a bit like KGB but isn't, spends its time dismissing most crimes and cases on the basis that they "are impossible to occur in the Stalin utopia". people, from police to peasants, are expected to be characterless, emotionless drones.

the protagonist, whose name escapes me for the moment, is a super duper example of this. he is a by the book leading member of the constabulary and is celebrated as a war hero. he merrily goes about his Soviet approved business, dismissing all crimes as impossible, until a human, or if you like western, moment of a rush of blood to the head causes him to act with some spontaneity. the action, which i shall not reveal, sets off a quite remarkable sequence of events which ultimately leads him to believe that crimes do happen in Soviet Russia, in particular murder, no matter how much Stalin wants the people to accept that they do not.

there are plot developments which are somewhat contrived and convenient. mostly, though, there are incredible plot twists and turns that captivate you, engage you and make you wish to read this book and do nothing else but read it. Tom Rob Smith's writing is incredible. i am thrilled to learn that there are two other volumes out there which in some way relate to the events and perhaps characters of this novel.

i am led to believe that the film version has been something of a disappointment. if that's the case, i can assure you it is not the fault of the source material - don't let whatever they have done with the film put you off obtaining and enjoying this novel.

i grabbed Shattered Icon from a pile of novels i had purchased off of the library. it looked like it would be easy enough reading on both the bus trip to the train station and indeed the train to london and back. this is what it proved to be, and overall i cannot complain about the 50p i spent to get this.

plot? a chap who sells antique maps and books is approached to value something. it's a seemingly impenetrable text that a member of the landed gentry of london has inherited off of some chap in Jamaica; a chap he has never heard of.

the member of the landed gentry is a bit of a twat, but has a really hot daughter, and money is money. the chap then agrees to take the commission. almost immediately he is approached with an insane cash offer to sell the text. he declines, citing that it is not his to sell.

translations, or if you like penetrations, commence, and it soon becomes clear to the chap why exactly people are after it. and those people who are after it, failing with the carrot, turn to the violent stick approach in their efforts to obtain it. 

there's a distinct Da Vinci Code edge to it all, only it's not all preposterous, outlandish or based on some otherwise unknown, centuries old mystery being solved in a couple of hours by a bloke that knew to associate Isaac Newton with an apple. is the object at the end of this novel plausible or believable? yes, i suppose, and none of the events in getting to the conclusion are all that ridiculous.

Shattered Icon was well written, interesting and entertaining reading all the way to london and about half of the way back. i look forward to finding more Bill Napier novels to read.

and there you have it. two novels in a row that i was very pleased to have read, with both being ones that i would not hesitate to recommend or suggest to fellow readers.

next i will be reading another one of them books about the copper who seems to solve most crimes whilst sat in a pub. it was on sale for £2 at Tesco, so i thought i'd give it a go. a review of that, and whatever i read after it, to follow later, then!

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