Friday, June 10, 2016

Book Reviews


Well, what do we have here. In somewhat faster time than has been the case over the last year I have, look you see, finished reading another two books. How so? Well, for one they were both somewhat thinner than some of the books I have chosen of late, but for the most part the words just flew off the pages. They were that good, to be sure.

Just which two novels did I read that flew by? Well, as usual let’s have a look.

A quick, customary spoiler free review? Surely. Rogue Lawyer off of John Grisham stands as one of his finest despite the fact that it should not. The Slaughter Man off of Tony Parsons has a excellent plot and great twist but is somewhat marred by the OTT violence and (ahem) “borrowing” off of Kill Bill.

You should be aware of the fact that a *** FABULOUS SPOILER WARNING *** is in place for the rest of this post, although of course I shall try not to give too much away. It would also be just great if you noted that links to the books are for convenience alone, and not an endorsement or affiliation that I have in place, as I have none.

Let’s start where I did, then, with Rogue Lawyer. Plot? Sebastian Rudd is a “street lawyer”, a defence specialist who scours the streets for people to defend. Mostly this is purely for profit, often it can be for publicity, and every now and then it is purely because he cares. The novel follows a series of cases he takes on, all interlinked with his private passion for all that “ultimate” cage fighting business.

Provenance of my copy? WH Smith. It was an impulse buy when I saw it, or maybe an instinct one – as far as I knew the paperback wasn’t due until August. I got it as part of a “Buy One Get One For ₤1” deal. In retrospect I could have got it for less, ₤3 off of Tesco to be precise, but never have I been so happy to pay full whack for a book

My thoughts about Rogue Lawyer were, mostly, trepidation prior to starting reading. Well, one hardly feels trepidation after the fact, but there you go. Grisham’s last novel, Gray Mountain, was wishy washy to say the least. This one sounded even lazier, in truth – I mean, all of his lawyers are rogue, hence them having a story to telll. I was, happily, wrong – this really is a superb “novel”.

I say “novel” as by 150 pages in you get the idea that these started off life as short stories, or treatments for a number of novels. This is pretty much confirmed in the comments Grisham makes at the back of the book, in which he says these were all “writey doodles” (my words not his) (but he can use them) that naturally came together. It works, but from time to time you can’t but help feel a sense of frustration as for one superb novel we’ve been robbed of 3, possibly 4 great novels from the source material.

Let me be brave. This could be the most important novel Grisham has delivered. It’s difficult to say why without giving too much of the details away. As an overview, the novel highlights all that is wrong with the American justice system – from the way police use and abuse post-911 powers, to the lazy incidental corruption that happens for the sake of a fast arrest through to how – most damningly – the whole system is stacked against the accused; those who are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty. Usually I am someone who is left baffled by the shortcoming of the American police and judicial system being headline news in the rest of the world, and yet I was left angry and horrified by just how bad it can be there, even if in fairness it was in the “informed fiction” of John Grisham.

To recap – Rogue Lawyer is very well written, is highly entertaining, carries an important message and ranks well in the top end of John Grisham novels. It is a book I would not hesitate to recommend to anyone; as point of fact I would insist people get it.

On we go, then, to The Slaughter Man off of Tony Parsons. Provenance? My (considerably) better half got it for me for ₤4 off of cigarette counter at Morrisons, on my request but still it was very nice of her.

Plot? This is the second novel “proper” to feature Max Wolfe, a DCI what Tony Parsons says he has “dedicated the next few years of his life” to writing about. In this novel he is called into investigate the brutal, seemingly execution style murder of a family in a posh, closed off area of London. Except it seems that not all of the family were slain…..

As mentioned at the start, this novel features an excellent plot premise and has a significantly impressive twist to it. Something of a “problem” is that it is bathed in quite brutal, heavy violence. Often..

You saw the spoiler warning, yeah? The trick here is that a good deal of the violence depicted is quite necessary. Acting as something of a foil to what went on in Rogue Lawyer, here we get a full on exposure to the barbaric violence our British bobbies are exposed to far too often, with far too little done about it. No matter how admirable and understandable it is that it’s there, alas at times it seems just far too OTT. This is particularly true in respect to the bit that Parsons merrily lifts from Kill Bill, although I don’t doubt Tarantino stole it from somewhere himself. Everybody steals.

The novel is also a little too quick to read, as in it is flimsy. At times, for the sake of a speedy read, things skip along and simply just “happen” a la Peter Robinson and his English way of doing things approach with the Banks books. Is it better to be fast, snappy and to the point rather than drawn out and risk boring the audience? If I ever write a book that takes the opposite approach to Parsons and it sells more, I shall be sure to let you know.

Tony Parsons? Ah,. Tony Parsons. Tony Parshole is what Viz call him, running bizarre yet weirdly accurate in style parody articles. Such is the Tony Parsons approach to life that you suspect one day a book will exist which is simply called Tony Parsons presents Tony Parsons on Tony Parsons by Tony Parsons.

And yet, and perhaps this is a dirty secret, I have always deeply admired and respected Tony Parsons, yes perhaps even envied him too. People say I am a pretty good writer, in particular when I am not lazy, and that’s wonderful, but I have always lacked that thing which Tony Parsons has in abundance – confidence. His astonishing self-belief gave him the courage to do what he wanted, and he does it with a passion. Sure, I will mock and laugh at his often over-excited editorials (whenever someone dies they are always the greatest and most important at whatever they did and were a thousand times better than anyone else), but deep down I know he’s writing what he feels, right from the heart.

That said, I would be cautious in recommending The Slaughter Man. Fast and pacy reading it may well be, but it’s far from light. If you can put up with, or actually rather like, brutal OTT violence, then go for it as there’s plenty of merit.

So, there we go. Two books that I was very glad to have read, the first in particular. As ever, I can but hope that some of these comments have been of passing interest or perhaps even use to one or two of you!!

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Post a Comment