Sunday, 10 August 2014

Linwood Barclay A Tap on the Window

Don't get me wrong I quite like Linwood Barclay and what he does he does well...ie he looks at an ordinary man's everyday life..yes the sort of life you and I lead and everyday situations and from that shows how one simple mistake or incident can make a life unfold and all the cards come tumbling down....Take A Tap on the Window, Cal Weaver is on his way home and stops to give a lift to a young bedraggled teenage girl...yes you've got it an older man giving a lift to a young girl late at night...what could possibly goes wrong! Well naturally as this is a best seller the girl disappears and you don't have to look very far to find the no 1 suspect...yes Cal your head was right you should not have stopped to give that young girl a lift.

What follows is a story of lies/suspicion/guilt/intrigue done in the very Linwood Barclay way and guaranteed to keep the reader reading and the pages turning...and to an extent it works. The problem with reading lots of Linwood Barclay is that they all follow a similar storyline...ie a simple incident leads to lives unravelling...and so dare I say the word "formulaic" springs to mind.

In essence this is an ok read with some well written good moments take this example...At the start we quickly learn that Cal's son Scott died tragically and recent and Cal travels to the place of his death where he contemplates and tries once again to come to terms with his son's death..."As I always did, I surveyed the scene. Starting at the handicapped spot, rising past the four rows of windows, stopping at the roofline....How long would it have taken? Two seconds? Three? I saw his body falling, plummeting, hitting the pavement. Three seconds seemed about right. Certainly no more than that. What was he thinking on the way down? Was he terrified? Did he realize, once he'd gone off the edge, what he'd actually done? In those two or three seconds, had he wondered whether there was anything he could do so save himself?

So not the best Linwood Barclay (did however love Trust Your Eves) and it's always best to return to an author rather than consume all his writings in one long reading marathon session!

Monday, 21 July 2014

Another cracker from Mr Billingham!

Lets get one thing straight here...I think DI Thorne is a real "prick" of a man. He is self centred, egotistical ,driven,and treats female company in the most despicable manner. Louise his latest partner is ignored by him, he is always working and likes to avoid conversation and her compnay preferring to drink with his mates and refusing to recognize that it is him and him alone that is the constant cause of his relationship breakups. In this latest romp he has the company of a young lady called Anna Carpenter and he actually believes that he could have a relationship with her, that she really likes this super cool egotistical cop this real man old enough to be her father!...well DI Thorne get your act together and recognize that you have faults...lots of them...and if not sorted soon you will be left a sad old man....there I've got that off my chest and it is undoubtly down to the writing talents of Mark Billingham that I can feel such a strong hate for Tom Thorne. This is a first class detective story that starts with the gruesome recalling of an old case that DI Thorne thought was "buried" in the past. There are lots of surprises and a great action story that takes place in both the UK and Spain but the real star is the characterization of DI Tom Thorne this flawed copper with the bloodhound ability to find his man...leaving misery and destruction in his path! Great stuff.....look forward to the next outing!

Sunday, 13 July 2014

No Country for old men...sheer brilliance!

This book was a surprise and a revelation to me in its unexpected brilliance! It was a Saturday morning here in downtown Bristol UK and as was my want I was visiting the local library and browsing the books they were trying to sell...clear the shelves of the used paperbacks making way for the new...when perchance I happened upon No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy. I offered the librarian one English pound and she gave me change...lots of change...”we just want rid of these old books she said” I returned home happy and content with my purchase, I had seen the movie and hoped the novel would be a good read....I was not disappointed.....This book is a deep dark noir of greed, corruption and the evil that men do. Llewlyn Moss discovers a large amount of money, the result of a drug deal gone wrong, and he selfishly decides that whatever happens...whatever the consequences he will keep this money and make a better life for both him and his girlfriend Carla cause that’s what he believed he could do. “You live to be a hundred, he said, and there wont be another day like this one” Moss however had not reckoned with the intervention of one of the greatest hired assassins in the history of storytelling; Anton Chigurh played brilliantly in the Coen Brothers excellent movie by Javier Bardem

However underneath this story, the real underbelly, and the message that McCarthy is trying to instill into the reader is the moral degradation of the American west. Sheriff Ed Bell is the lawman charged with making sense of all the killings and he together with his uncle Ellis lament the increasing violence in the region and the disrespect of a younger generation against those who fought and died for American values. “These old people I talk to if you could of told em that there would be people on the streets of our Texas towns with green hair and bones in their noses speakin a language they couldn’t even understand, well, they just flat out wouldn’t of believed you.”

It is the southern Texas language of this wonderful book that really shines through and gives such authenticity to the writing. As Moss is trying to evade his would be killer he gives a ride to a hitchhiker and over lunch...”She ate. She looked around. Can I get some coffee ? she said You can get anything you want. You got money. She looked at him. I guess I aint sure what the point is, she said. The point is there aint no point. No, I mean what you said. About knowin where you are. He looked at her. After a while he said: It’s not about knowin where you are. It’s about thinkin you got there without takin anything with you. Your notions about startin over. Or anybody’s. You don’t start over. That’s what it’s about. Ever step you take is forever. You cant make it go away. None of it. You understand what I’m sayin? .....I think so...I know you don’t but let me try it one more time. You think when you wake up in the morning yesterday don’t count. But yesterday is all that does count. What else is there? You life is made out of the days it’s made out of. Nothin else. You might think you could run away and change your name and I don’t know what all. Start over. And then one morning you wake up and look at the ceiling and guess who’s layin there?

There are some wonderful conversations that occurred between Bell and his Uncle Ellis that add such a poignant realism to the story. “What’s your biggest regret in life. The old man looked at him, gauging the question. I don’t know he said. I aint got all that many regrets. I could imagine lots of things you might think would make a man happier. I reckon being able to walk around might be one. You can make up your own list. You might even have one. I thing by the time you’re grown you’re as happy as you’re goin to be. You’ll have good times and bad times, but in the end you’ll be about as happy as you was before. Or as unhappy. I’ve knowed people that just never did get the hang of it”

If I was to tell you that I read this book in one sitting then you may come some way to understand both it’s importance and literary content...with just a little dark noir humour thrown in....

“We got another execution here Sherriff? No, I believe this one’s died of natural causes....Natural causes? Natural to the line of work he’s in.

“I’m like you. I aint sure we’ve seen these people before. Their kind. I don’t know what to do about em even. If you killed em all they’d have to build a annex on to hell”.....

A wonderful story by a literary genius that deserves to be read by all...and then read again!


Saturday, 5 July 2014

Brilliant writing from a brilliant author


Ten minutes ago I killed three of my neighbors...Four, if you count the baby. What a start! to a fantastic rollercoaster of a ride the leaves the reader breathless right to the last page. Andy Holland is a horror writer (and we love horror writers!) living single at home from his estranged wife Karen (who he found in an uncompromising position with her boss!) and daughter Samantha. Andy is carrying a lot of heartache there’s just him now, and his good old buddy his faithful dog Norman and one day whilst the faithful pair are out walking they make the horrific discovery of the naked body of a dead child and thereafter things are never the same...”Truth be told, I knew exactly what was bothering Norman. Ever since that fateful morning, I could tell my dog had not been the same. It wasn’t anything I could put a finger on, really, other than a slight tension in the retriever’s haunches, a cautious twitch of his ears every few minutes. Yet I knew he sensed the wrongness that had festered within our neighbourhood these last few days. An ominous feeling lingered on every breeze, like the ozone scent of a storm looming just seconds away. The air around us crackled with a strange, electric quiet. Gone were the low, rattling drone of skateboard wheels atop asphalt and the ticking of playing cards in bicycle spokes and the carefree laughter of children which normally echoed up and down our block......”

This is a delicious story that starts of slow with the horror and the reality of Andy’s situation building to a bloody crescendo and in the end Andy discovers that the good life he thought he had was in reality a myth and those he hoped he could trust disappeared and turned against 
him. 
There were three great characters of note Ronnie “Round Man” Miller proprietor of the 7th Avenue Stop-N-Shop and two of Andy’s neighbours: Mona Purfield “an obese senior citizen who dyed her hair the brightest orange I have ever seen. When the sun hit it just right, her head looked like it was on fire. She always wore three or four times more make-up than necessary for a woman her age, dressed in flowery muumuus and neon pink flip-flops wherever she went, and spoke in the most nasally, obnoxious voice you can imagine” and Ben Souther who always had a handy quote whenever and wherever he needed it. “Everyone is a moon” Ben Souther said, “and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody.”So will the killer be discovered?, will Andy ever have the good life again? And will he still be loved and revered by the good people of Poinsettia Lane? Dear readers you are in for a wonderful treat James Newman is one of the greatest living exponents of the the horror genre and this novel is truly brilliant...so read..and enjoy and be thankful for the support and love of good neighbours J

Saturday, 26 April 2014

77 Days in September

The kindle...ah the good old kindle all those authors self publishing and hoping to be the next Stephen King...if only...in your dreams Mr Gorham and all those 5 star reviews where have they all come from? If the author had been at school and written this tedious ponderous story his teacher would probably have said....could do better..so what do we have here? There has been an electro magnetic incident and all communication/electrical systems no longer operate and this includes everything from the humble toaster to the micro chip. Nothing functions and our hero Kyle is on a flight home to Montana when the EMT incident occurs resulting in the plane crashing on take off. Our hero, for that he must surely be, decides to walk home to Montana pushing his little cart a mere 1500+ miles to see the beautiful and dutiful Jennifer and his 3 doting kids. In the process he will encounter some not so savoury people and will be tempted by the luscious Rose..eager to bed the first man who appears on the horizon but our hero Kyle although tempted remains faithful to be beautiful Jennifer and continues on his way (writing a touching diary to his loved one in the process...just in case he does not make it) Meanwhile in the good old homestead of Montana Jennifer keeps the fires burning and fights of the advances of a rather sex starved sheriff called Doug...will she succeed? will our hero make it home? and will the world return to normality?...who knows and frankly who cares! What an utterly boring piece of writing, by someone who I presume had read The Road and thought he could write a similar masterpiece!! Well no Mr Gorman this is average in the extreme and possibly you should keep to your day job, I will certainly not be reading any of your future kindle publications and for all those who awarded 5 stars I can only presume you are either friends or family or have a limited reading taste........

Sunday, 30 March 2014

When We Fall by Peter Giglio

And so finally after some poor offerings from DarkFuse publishing I read a short novella that is simple slick and brilliant. Ben is in the process of making the short but painful journey from boy to man where those care free days of childhood are left behind and the harsh world of the adult with all the accompanying pain makes itself known. Two of his childhood friends have been tragically killed and he must seek solace in the company of Aubrey who has a dreadful secret that she will not disclose...dear reader...until the end of the story. You will not see or understand what is happening until it is too late, and by then Ben's pain and suffering will continue as he learns to accept what fate has in store for him and how decisions that we take and our taken has a great influence on the direction of our lives.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Severed by Gary Fry

The idea behind this short novella is that the human..yes you and I have two sides to our personality, an emotional side and a moral side. What stops us being out and out bastards! is our moral conscience and if we did not have this conscience then there would be no inner body policeman and all hell would be let loose..." The fundamental division in human life was not between body and soul, but between an emotional and a moral being. And it was the way one governed the other that served as the principal determinant of behavior." Severed is the spreading of a virus amongst the populace that allows our moral side to drift skyward as what could best be described as an organic white cloud, leaving our emotional side as a zombie full of hate and loathing. Can Professor Stephen Hobbs, a man with an almost schizophrenia personality disorder, save the day. Apart from the initial idea this did not really work for me and I found both the writing style of the author and his execution of the storyline somewhat tedious and made this a difficult read to finish.