Tuesday, March 22, 2016

bring forth the book reviews

 hello there

Well, it is time. I have, look you see, finished reading another two novels, and so here we go with an overview, or if you like review of them.

For the benefit of my regular readers – you totes crazy ass bunch, you – here’s the usual whine. Yes, I lament still that they took my bus route for my travel to and from verk away. That was my reading time, to be sure, and as they don’t like you reading whilst driving my reading time is no more. Instead of a novel a week I now can only get through one novel ever 2 – 3 weeks or so, sometimes more. The decision to mess with the bus timetables has cost the booksellers of the region some, then.

A look at the books which I have most recently read? Surely. although blogger and apple seem not to like being in agreement on rotation once more, so apologies if this picture appears upside down.

How about a quick, spoiler-free review or if you like overview of the novels, for those of you either in a rush or just not wanting the stories to be spoiled? Abattoir Blues is a sub-pedestrian wander through a nondescript plot and has all the classical hallmarks of a creator being bored, drained, tired and uninspired by his creation. After Anna is somewhat undermined by its own artwork and cover blurb, but nonetheless it was an engaging and interesting enough read, enhanced greatly by some wonderful writing touches.

Be warned, you, for spoilers are likely to crop up in the below. Also, as ever, links to the books are for convenience, and are not endorsements, affiliations or whatever.

Right, on we go with a closer look, then, starting with Abattoir Blues. Provenance of the novel? Bought off of cigarette counter at Morrisons in early 2015 for £3.99.

Plot? As usual with the world of DCI Banks, we are in Yorkshire. A (tsk) townie who has moved to Yorkshire and is pretending to be a farmer (the disgrace) has his tractor stolen (serves him right). When giving the constabulary the details, he casually points out that the son of a nearby farmer – a proper, Yorkshire born and raised one and not a pretend one – had a bit of a run in with him years earlier. They check that out, and in doing so stumble on a peculiar set of circumstances which might lead to a bigger crime. Whilst this is happening, an injured squaddie stumbles upon some suspicious stains at an apparently abandoned warehouse, and a freak traffic accident leads to a gruesome discovery…..

The above, I think, might have made the novel sound more interesting than it was. Whilst the premise was pretty good, the execution is horrid. Often I felt like this novel should rather have been called Do I Have To Do This?, or maybe Contractual Obligations. As the Banks novels have progressed (and I in fairness haven’t read them all), they have had a tendency to focus more on the idea of policework being sitting in a pub and having a think on about who the rogue might be and what he’s up to, with the conclusion being The English Way Of Doing Things, as in the scoundrel turns up, turns himself in and confesses all for no apparent reason at the end.

Arguably the most audacious element of Abattoir Blues is that there is next to no actual police or detective work on the go. It’s all whims and speculative guesses which lead Banks and Co to the doorstep of anyone involved in whatever is going on, and by chance the first person they see is always available and the right person to be speaking to.

I see another Banks novel is due this year. It would not be a major shock to find that this is the last one. Having not read them all, but some 7 or 8, I think I can say that, in my experience, the concept and characters have run their course.

On, then, to After Anna, which apparently was an “ebook sensation”. My provenance, however, is a £2 paperback off of Tesco copy. It was bought in late 2015, and bought as it looked kind of interesting and it was £2.

Spoilers at the fore here, with the biggest spoiler on the cover. As with the magnificent Girl On The Train, the less you know about After Anna the better before you read.

Plot? A mother, on the verge of leaving her husband, is late for collecting her daughter, Anna, from school. When she makes it to school, her daughter is gone. A search of the area gives no sign of her or clues, and it is taken that she has been abducted. A frantic and somewhat daunting series of searches, actions and appeals take place. After seven days, however, when all were on the verge of giving up hope, Anna returns, apparently unharmed and seemingly with no idea where she was. No one can work out who took her, why they took her or why she was returned. And then life with Anna back takes some unusual turns….

On the one side much of the possible tension from this novel is lost by the fact that the blurb on the book tells you that the kidnap victim is returned. This robs some 200 pages of the novel of tension, as you know how that part of the story ends. That said, there are some interesting, insightful and well executed parts of prose covering the public reaction to an abduction, in particular with regards to the “keyboard warriors” of internet things like that Twerker stuff Stephen Fry quite, and that snappy face chat book one. As for what happens after the return, well, maybe predictable but never pedestrian, and as I have mentioned told with some rather impressive writing style.

It is really very well written. There are some lovely turns of phrase, and a fair few wonderful plot twists and dramatic devices used. One or two elements had me going “wow, I wish one day when I am big that I can write something that good”. I’ve no idea if that’s a worthwhile compliment, but there you go.

Who to recommend After Anna to? I have to tread carefully for fear of spoilers, but mystery / whodunit fans would, I imagine, quite like this novel a lot. One has the feeling that this novel is destined for some sort of film or TV adaptation – it will work very well, I should imagine, but all I can tell you now is that it works might fine as a book.

So, there we go. Yes I have started another novel off, and it’s quite lengthy so future reviews might be in the light of summer. I am, however, also picking off tales in a new short story anthology, so further literature crusades may feature here sooner rather than later.

As ever, I can but hope that these book reviews have been of some use, relevance or interest to someone somewhere!

zijn uitstekende elkaar, or if on the other side, excellent les uns aux autres!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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