Sunday, November 15, 2015

book reviews

hey there

yes indeed, look you see, it's been a while since i've done some book reviews. losing that time which i had on the bus to read has significantly cut into the amount of time i have to do so. this i still consider a great shame, but hey ho, what can i do - Arriva now seem to run more "not in service" buses each day than they do actual buses. nope, makes no sense to me either.

anyway, a look at the books under review and something of a spoiler-free overview of them all? i can certainly do that, and let's see if blogger and apple between them let me post the pictures the right way around. which, of course, would be nice.

but of course not - i had to open the images, copy into paint and edit to get them the right way around.

quick, at a glance review as indicated? surely. After The Crash is a lesson in how a fantastic, brilliant idea for a premise which could be resolved very quickly does not turn into a good novel. Bad Boy is more of Inspector banks doing his thing. Skipping Christmas is a quick, neat and mostly funny novel that in no way lends itself to an American film - i believe they tried and failed. more on that later.

yes, back to three. i thought i'd squeeze in the Christmas related one, what with us being so close to Thanksgiving and all that. i will try not to give too much away, but to be safe, please note that *** POSSIBLE SPOILERS LIE AHEAD *** and so if you don't want to know a thing more about the books, off you go to another point of the internet. there's loads. 

as usual, any and all links are there for your convenience, and are absolutely no indication of any paid for advertising, endorsement or affiliation.

i bought After The Crash on a complete whim at the same time that i bought the ill-fated Morrissey novel. the chap in Waterstones reckoned that this one was the best book he had read all year. up front, to that, he said that he hadn't read The Girl On The Train.

plot? in 1980 (or maybe 1981) there's a terrible plane crash, involving a flight from Turkey to France. all aboard are feared dead, yet by some miracle there is a survivor - a weeks old baby. who is the baby? difficult to say, as there were two babies of more or less the same age on the flight. which one the survivor is becomes a matter only resolved on the 18th birthday of the baby.....

...yeah. you in your mind are telling yourself the problem here. even if there was no such thing as DNA testing or similar in 1980 (or 1981) there was most decidedly so a long time before 1998 (or 1999), the date at which point the true identity of the baby is discovered, revealed or what have you. although the plot kinds of twists and turns in a way that sort of makes it plausible as to why this wasn't all done by the, at best, early 90s, as a reader i never quite got over the preposterous hurdle that saw matters of identity not being established for so very long.

is it any good despite that? sort of yes, sort of no. i mean, i am sure they do loads of books in France each year; why this one made it into an English translation is curious. it is, at best, average. the trail to identity gets tedious, and the various sub-plots are not engaging at all. and yet it's an unchallenging, not complicated and for the most part enjoyable read. i wasn't really ever dazzled by it, but also i was seldom tempted to just put it down and forget all about it. does that help you decide whether to read it or not? probably not. i'd say if you found the premise as interesting as i did, then go for it, but don't expect the explanation of why the delay in establishing the identity took so long.

back, then, to the world of solving crimes via sitting in a pub with Bad Boy, the 5th, 6th or 7th Peter Robinson novel i have read this year (lost count, sorry)

plot? actually the copper Banks is in America, on some sort of holiday. this is problematic when an old friend pops in the cop shop to ask for him in the hope that he would sort out the matter of their daughter having a gun by the English way of doing things. with him gone it has to rather be done officially, and it all goes very messy. it gets even messier when Banks' daughter ends up kind of on the run with a very bad boy, who may or may not be a murderer.

Banks comes home to this mess, and interestingly doesn't spend too much time in the pub. does it all get resolved in the end via the English way of doing things? why, partially yes, but also - presumably as a nod to his holiday - it also partially gets sorted by the American way of doing things, which you don't need me to tell you involves a cop bending the rules to get results and some very fancy shooting. but who shoots who, and if it got the right result, is something you can find out if you elect to have a read of this particular novel.

should you read it? sure if you've enjoyed the others off of the same writer, and certainly if you like to see how English coppers resolve crimes without doing so down the pub, for the most part. yes, of course a pub visit or two happens, but not as much as in other books featuring Banks.

a quick break, then, to see how the BBC made a valiant effort to go viral today. "hot" news in the world of music is the rumours that Slash (and all them others) are going to rejoin Axl for a reunion of the "classic" Guns N Roses line up. so the BBC decide to run a picture of Slash playing guitar with Bill Gates to illustrate the story, just so we know it is all about money.

yeah, that's right, they decided in the caption or "tag" that it was not Slash, but in fact Axl Rose. i don't for one minute think that the BBC are that stupid. this is deliberate, surely? the idea is to use it as a sort of "clickbait" thing, have people click on the story to see how stupid they are and watch the read count rise.
finally, then, Skipping Christmas, a rare John Grisham novel which does not feature lawyers or the law, and read just in time to see if it's worth suggesting for Christmas reading.

plot? a couple, the Kranks, wave bye bye to their daughter, who is off to work for the Peace Corps in Peru (or similar) for a year. that means they are home alone for Christmas. Mr Krank does the maths, and works out that for less than they spend on Christmas they could go on a really smart, warm cruise. so, they decide to skip Christmas.

the (brief) novel then sees the social difficulties they face in doing so, for friends, neighbours, colleagues, members of the church and charities cannot understand how or why anyone would wish to skip Christmas. will the Kranks in fact be allowed to?

as a novel this is mostly fun and amusing, as indeed is the case with a few other things off of Grisham from time to time. he does regularly inject humour in his more celebrated law books, you just have to watch out for it. as a film, based on an as-is adaptation, i would imagine it would be quite depressing and tiresome to watch, as i believe is the case with the film they did make.  weirdly, reading it my thoughts were that the story would, as point of fact, actually make a really, really good classical British farce comedy. most of the elements suggest English comedy than they do American. and i do not mean to imply one is superior to the other; for i love both.

worth reading? yes. short, fun, engaging stuff. nice one, John Grisham. and that's that for these reviews, and in all likelihood book reviews for the year, since all i have on the shelf to read are really long ones.

i don't really have a lot else to say, sorry. normally i just put a picture of the back of the books at the end and do have something to write, but not this time around.

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