Here are the fiction books I read in August. This time, I’m being lazy and doing single sentence reviews. Hamburg in 1948 is the setting for a crime novel featuring German survivors of the war (including regular police) dealing with … Continue reading →
Here are the fiction books I read in July. Mix of fantasy stories. KJ Parker’s stood out, but the overall quality wasn’t bad. On the other hand, none of the stories were so good that I felt the need to … Continue reading →
I decided to go back in time and read some older novels which I had read the first time they came out, and remembered fondly. This was the first and was something of a surprise.
First, I’m now convinced I had never read it before! That was one surprise. Second, it was pretty disappointing. That was another surprise. Third, I was impressed at the good job the filmmakers did with this raw material – the films are way better than this book (and presumably the rest).
The story is well known. A body, shot to hell, is washed up by the sea. He’s not dead. An alcoholic ex-pat doctor puts him back together again physically, but mentally his greatest challenge is that he cannot remember who (or what) he is. The microfilm sewn into his hip is a clue, as is the evidence of plastic surgery to his face. Oh, and that Zurich bank account with several million dollars that the microfilm leads to, that could be another clue!
Our man Bourne goes on a journey to find himself. Unfortunately, there are people out to kill him. Thus starts the adventure.
In short, the book has not aged well. Th story is not bad, but Bourne’s introspectives are turgid, and the relationship with his lover is beyond credible. The action scenes are not bad. The scene setting is reasonable, though I wasn’t convinced by the logic explaining the actions of some of the competing factions.
DCI Axel Steen is assigned the case of a murdered man whose hooded and tortured body is found in a Copenhage cemetery. What makes it particularly puzzling is that the area was flooded with policemen at the time of the crime, supposedly on guard and dealing with a riot. Was a policeman the killer? How did the victim’s body get to his final resting place?
As Steen tries to solve the murder, in best crime novel tradition, the body count goes up, and the case becomes more complex and less clear. Steen, another in a long line of defective detectives, drives himself too hard in his mission to get the killer. The tension is ramped up, and the climax is suitably exciting.
I liked this. It had bite, plenty of twists, and a decent main character. Copenhagen was an interesting backdrop, and made a fine accompaniment to a well told story. There are one or two rough edges, and a couple of overly maudlin scenes, but that’s just nitpicking by me. Recommended.
This is a melancholy tale of a prison librarian Anna Byrne, a prisoner on remand called Michael Hudson, and Phil Ornazian, a private investigator with a sideline in crime.
Byrne knows the people in jail are not all good, but she knows the power of books and loves being able to bring some light into dark places. Sometimes she forgets and is drawn too close to a prisoner, like Hudson. But before things can get too involved, Hudson is released. His freedom is at a price, and he has to find a safe way around the dangerous obstacles that await his passage. Ornazian features largely in his future.
The characters are interesting, though I wasn’t completely convinced about Ornazian’s motivation. The interactions are well told with a light touch, and free flowing narrative. The violence is not overdone, and the city backdrop is pitched just right. The story is straightforward – verging on lightweight – so the reader has to secure enjoyment from something other than plot twists and turns. On balance I would say that this novel just about delivers. I enjoyed it even though the absence of a decent, meaty plot meant I sometimes felt I was just coasting along.
The ending, when it comes, does add some spice to this simple tale. Overall, I liked it.
I would have really liked to blog more, but a combination of work, work, and work, alongside the usual trials and tribulations of day-to-day life somewhat sucked the spare energy out of me. But here I am on the other side, feeling OK, and ready to do some blogging. Let’s see how long the resolve lasts.
I suppose if you have been brought up to believe that it is fair, reasonable, and right that people’s life and liberty should be sacrificed solely in the interests of demonizing the Jewish State, it’s no great leap to sacrifice the chance to visit your grandmother to keep the fires of hate burning. What a great example of citizenship that is!
Oh, and in case you missed it, the Obama administration banned an Israeli MK from entering the USA in 2012 for his extremist views. Sauce for the goose… Pretty rich of those USA parliamentarians to cry wolf now.
A train draws into Rome with a carriage full of dead people. A claim of responsibility from an Islamic terrorist group is taken seriously, and on goes the hunt by the authorities to stop the killers committing another atrocity. A misfit detective and a plain misfit (albeit idiot savant) believe otherwise. They follow their own trail – one that leads, inevitably, to more danger, deaths, and mystery.
This book is a follow up to the excellent Kill the Father and while it doesn’t quite hit those heights, it comes close. It is well written with a bevy of interesting characters, intriguing and entertaining. The central mystery is a good one, and the final twist is well concealed and delivers a real surprise.
Overall, recommended, but start with the first in the series.
This is a brutal novel about corruption in the New York police and elsewhere in society. The central character is a renegade policeman who is, in the vernacular, bent. Detective Sergeant Denny Malone and his merry men are supposed to fight to protect the citizens of New York from gangs, drugs and guns in New York. From his perspective, he’s not bent, just oiling the wheels of justice. He seems to ignore the hoard of drugs and cash he has accumulated from his just fight.
Of course, he is not the only bad apple in the barrel. And the baddies aren’t exactly noble citizens either. Unfortunately for Malone, his time may be up, as the FBI are moving in. And unfortunately for the city, at the same time there is something of a race war being threatened, arising out of a police shooting of a black man by a white policeman in suspicious circumstances. (All too familiar.)
The story follows Malone and his crew and their misadventures. It’s violent, fast paced and tense. The city backdrop is authentic, and the characterizations are good. The plot has less surprises than you might want, but is tight and does bring all the strands together. There are moments of pure pathos, and some of dark comedy. But above it all is the dark, dark cloud of corruption.
It’s not a book I would rush to recommend unless you like your fiction dark. Bad things happen to good people. But I enjoyed it, though I hope and pray it’s truly fiction and far removed from the reality.