Monday 19 December 2011

Go with the seasonal flow

I love good writing, I love good music, I'm an agnostic. What better combination then to get me to blog about Christmas carols! Much as I'll go to a church if it's important enough to a friend (usually wedding or funeral) and I'll stand, sit and kneel with the crowd, so I'll sing carols.

Monday 12 December 2011

Robert B. Parker: Hush Money

Hush Money is the first Spenser novel I'm reviewing here, though it's not the first in the series. It's the quintessentual Parker book - well written, well paced, some complex ideas dealt with simply, some detection, some action, some Spenser/Hawk humour. If you like this, you'll like the rest of the set. If you don't like it, move on - perhaps to the Jesse Stone novels if you want to try more Parker, otherwise to another author.

Saturday 3 December 2011

The Rebekah Brooks Diary: Part 5

Chipping Norton has a new hero, dear Diary! An aging man who seized a good franchise and became rich has said or done something outrageous and it wasn't even mentioned in Leveson. Oh Jeremy, you Jem. Outrage the little people and they're scurrying off to buy your Christmas DVD "Sniffing Petrol With The Lads".

Wednesday 30 November 2011

Robert B. Parker

There were two Robert B.Parkers. One was a hard-bitten war reporter and member of the OSS, the other a professor of English Literature at Boston University. The former produced a few noir thrillers, the latter produced an extensive body of work across several genres and it is the prof I'll talk about today.

Sunday 20 November 2011

Tim Willocks The Religion Review

It's taken me a while to get round to reading this and I'm kicking myself - it's a cracker! Massively longer than his previous novels, completely different genre, Tim Willocks has produced a huge work - and I don't just mean the number of pages.

Friday 11 November 2011

Jo Nesbo: The Leopard Review

Another romping tale of bloody murder in Norway, another serial killer on the loose and Harry Hole is the man to catch him. Oslo police aren't sure how he's killing his female victims; Hole has to be brought back from the hideaway he ran to after a near nervous breakdown following his heroics in The Snowman.

Wednesday 9 November 2011

The Rebekah Brooks Diary Part 4

Well, Dear Diary, I've been keeping schtumm as Rupert asked me to but now I really must speak out. One's private affairs are splashed all over the newspapers - well, the Guardian anyway so none of my friends will believe it, muckraking left-wing rag that it is. Jeremy wanted to sue it for libel but he'd have had to buy a new suit for the court case (Ginsters pies and petrol fumes go to the waistline, Jeremy) so he didn't bother.

Monday 24 October 2011

Robert Crais: Voodoo River Review

Robert Crais really hits his stride wirh Voodoo River, fifth in the Cole/Pike set. Elvis Cole is hired to do a routine job, investigate the birth of an adopted child. Delicacy is needed as the child is now a grown up and very popular TV actress, playing the pretty but wholesome wife of a wholesome blonde man and mother of four blonde kids - hammering that mid-Western demographic.

Friday 14 October 2011

Fox Holed

Liam Fox has resigned from his post as defence secretary.

Here, in full, is his resignation letter to Prime Minister David Cameron, and Mr Cameron's response.

Wednesday 12 October 2011

Robert Crais: Free Fall Review

Beautiful but innocent Jennifer Sheridan appeals to the Cole Detective Agency for help. She believes that her beautiful and nearly as innocent boyfriend is having an affair. Mark is a policeman, recently become a member of an elite unit - an awkward person to investigate, especially when you consider Cole's partner's murky past on the force.

Monday 26 September 2011

Robert Crais Lullaby Town Review

The third Elvis Cole/Joe Pike novel sees Crais moving into Hollywood. Peter Alan Nelsen is the third best (ie most profitable) director in the world. What Peter wants, Peter gets. Peter actually wants a good slap but more of that anon.

Thursday 22 September 2011

Would you like fries with your cancer?

I should be inured to the horrors issuing from the callous Conservatives by now but no, they've managed to surpass themselves. Verily, as they claim to be Christian, Jesus must have said, "Take up thy bed and work."

A bit of background. Prime Minister David (call me Dave) Cameron, Chancellor George (the one who didn't go to Eton) Osborne and little Nicky Clegg (the one nobody cares about) want to cut the amount spent on Disability Benefit. This is money that goes to people who are unable to work through sickness or disability. There are two ways to do this:

Thursday 15 September 2011

Robert Crais: Stalking The Angel, Reviewed

Second in the Cole/Pike series, Robert Crais moves into darker territory on this one. Bradley Warren, rich businessman, has lost a loaned work of art, a 13th Century Japanese manuscript called the Hagakure. Elvis Cole's agency has been recommended to Warren, though Cole's flippancy fails to appeal to the pompous millionaire.

Saturday 10 September 2011

Rosemary and time

"What will it be?" they ask. "There's rosemary, that's for remembrance. Perhaps he's about to witter on about healing all wounds, or wounding all heels." If I give you a farther clue and ask you to bare with me you'll probably get it - common English errors - a catalogue of them I've recently put together.

Robert Crais: The Monkey's Raincoat Review

"She went back into the kitchen. When she didn't come out for a while I went to see. She was standing with one hand on the counter and one hand atop her head. Her glasses were off and her chest was heaving and there was a puddle of tears on the tile counter by the glasses. Streamers of mucus ran down from her nose. All of that, but you couldn't hear her."

Friday 9 September 2011

Robert Crais

Robert Crais is one of a group of US authors who've had a good grounding in the greats of detective fiction and forged a more literary path while preserving much of the good of the genre. He cites Chandler as a major influence and there are indeed echoes of the master, albeit updated to a flashier West Coast.

Wednesday 7 September 2011

Desert Island Books

A while ago I was challenged to write a blog on another platform - the five books I'd take to a desert island. In the time allocated I wrote My Five Favourite Books and I was quite pleased with the result. Throw in Scrabble and a literate Fred the crab and I'd be set for, well, days.

Wednesday 24 August 2011

Ross Thomas The Fools In Town Are On Our Side

Fools is one of Thomas's most savage novels. Bleak and violent, with little of the customary humour as leavening, it is perhaps his most powerful. It tells the tale of Lucifer Dye through three stages of his life. The latest stage is an ambitious plan to disrupt the power élite of a corrupt city with a view to gaining political control and the story is told with flashbacks to earlier days.

Friday 5 August 2011

Jo Nesbo: The Redeemer Reviewed

Another very good novel from Nesbo, really hitting his stride after some early hiccoughs. A Croatian serial killer is on the loose in Norway, Detective Harry Hole is hunting him, or justice, or either.

Saturday 30 July 2011

White Van Ambulance Man

Nothing to do with books but it's blog or bang my head repeatedly against the wall.

I've just finished reading a bunch of articles and reports on what our newish government is doing to the NHS under the old slogan of "competition good". Naturally, competition has already proved bad and people are suffering - and that's after less than a year and before any of the really stupid changes are made.

Friday 15 July 2011

The Rebekah Brooks Diary Part 3

Well, Dear Diary, what a day!

It all started with a swim with Rupie. That dreadful fellow was there, calls himself an American but i think he isn't really. Pol Potbelly, that's how I think of him. He had a red folder with "Son Protection Factor 1" on the cover and started waving it at me as soon as Rupie followed me up the ladder out of the pool, breathing heavily. I commented that there were a few sub-editors available who could correct his spelling and the dreadful fellow just muttered about "not told her yet then." At which Rupert explained to me that I'd have to give up my nice office and lie low for a while. I don't mind the lying but that office was super. Boo hoo.

Wednesday 13 July 2011

The Rebekah Brooks Diary Part 2

Had a couple of days at home - James calls them "mental health days" and I jolly well needed them. Gave a speech to the oiks at the NOTW (gone and damn well should be forgotten) and they were most rude. It was bad enough in a room with so many of that sort of person (something called Lynx, apparently) but there was no cause for the sort of rudeness I experienced. Perhaps they'll now realise that if they behave badly they must suffer the consequences.

Friday 8 July 2011

The Rebekah Brooks Diary Part 1

8th July 2011

Some very hurtful pieces about me in several newspapers today. Thank God that The Times understands the situation and knows that publishing anything about this little matter would just fan the tabloid flames. As for the Guardian banging on about it, it really is time there was some sort of regulation of the media in this country.

Reach office late as driver seems to be taking strange route. Will have him replaced with more competent person. People in lobby whispering in small groups: must check with secretary to see who's died. Travel alone in lift - good of staff to give me space at this difficult time.

Wednesday 15 June 2011

Jo Nesbo: The Snowman Reviewed

Nesbo's best work yet; you can see why his US publisher went big with this book, it's a cracking tale of serial killing and snowmen. Policeman Harry Hole is dragged around Norway as the body count mounts - someone with a talented scalpel is killing women and taunting the police by building snowmen at the scenes of the crimes.

Detective Harry is awash in a sea of TV stars, doctors, good cops and bad cops, office politics and Nesbo's usual red herrings. Jo Nesbo hasn't always been as subtle in the use of such devices as I'd have liked; here he's mastered the art to provide a series of plausible but blind alleys and crescendos of action.

Tuesday 7 June 2011

Jo Nesbo: The Redbreast Reviewed

Nesbo's detective Harry Hole appears in a tale of decades old revenge and murder, interspersed with a look at Norway's WWII fascists and their present day counterparts.

The novel starts unpromisingly for Hole: alcoholic tremors in a police car as he watches his section of the visiting US President's route, an unknown intruder in a building, a desperate footrace hoping for a stay, a shot ...

Tuesday 31 May 2011

Jo Nesbo Reviewed

Let's settle one thing quickly: The next Stieg Larsson? No! Lazy journalism from hacks who couldn't find Norway on a map.

Both write crime fiction: one writes police procedurals, the other writes from the point of view of a journalist and a grossly-abused near-autistic hacker. They do have snow in common but that's not much of a determinant of style or content.

Monday 16 May 2011

Michael Connelly: The Lincoln Lawyer Review

Mickey Haller is The Lincoln Lawyer, so called as he does his business from the back seat of a Lincoln. That business is ducking and diving to get clients, usually from the lowest levels of the criminal world, and to get them freed on technicalities or to get good plea bargains. Not particularly uplifting but Haller manages to sleep at night.

Sunday 15 May 2011

Michael Connelly

Michael Connelly review
Michael Connelly
Michael Connelly could almost count as one of the grand old men of American crime fiction, until you realise he's only been writing novels since 1992. Over the intervening years Connelly has amassed an impressive collection of novels, gathering awards and praise along the way.

Sunday 3 April 2011

Trusting The Written Word, Spreading The Electronic

I've been reading up on the subject of Internet Marketing in recent months - and by "reading up" I mean looking at many websites and the few books I could get access to without paying. Why? Because I'm cheap and because the Internet is an ever-changing playground: by the time a book on certain aspects of it is published there's a good chance the context will have changed.

Monday 21 March 2011

Seth Morgan: Homeboy Review

I recently said that Tim Willocks' Green River Rising might be the best prison novel ever written but Seth Morgan's Homeboy runs it a close second. The only reason it misses out on the top spot is because so much of the book takes place outside prison.

Before the review starts though: a warning. If you like your novels to dive headlong into the sewers of human life and to wallow in vileness and desperation, with no action too foul for somebody to contemplate ... this is the book for you. If you really aren't strong-stomached, pass on Homeboy.

Saturday 12 March 2011

Musing On Music

joni mitchell graham nash I blogged a while ago about the house being taken over by piles of books - well, that's not strictly true, - the books fight for surface space with the CDs.

I'll always have something playing whilst reading (or writing). At the moment it's JJ Cale but I'll listen to almost anything. I do draw the line at rap, hip hop and pap that comes from a TV show but that leaves anything from Brahms to Beatles, Van Morrison to Van der Graaf Generator (who? I hear you cry). And another who? Who's the image on the left? Read on and I'll tell you.

Friday 11 March 2011

Seth Morgan

Silver threads and golden needles cannot mend this heart of mine
And I'll never drown my sorrow in the warm glow of your wine.
You can't buy my love with money, for I never was that kind,
Silver threads and golden needles cannot mend this heart of mine

A verse from Janis Joplin, doubly relevant as Seth Morgan was Joplin's lover and fiancé and because he was a user of drugs through to his death.

Tuesday 1 March 2011

Bought A Book At Tesco Recently?

I have, and I'm feeling a little ashamed of myself. It was cheap, it was something I'd read rather than something I desperately wanted, it caught my eye and I have problems walking past books without buying something.

Friday 18 February 2011

Tim Willocks: Green River Rising

"Green River Rising is a stunner - and maybe the best prison novel ever"

James Ellroy

I don't normally give much credence to what one author says about another - it's usually overblown and/or anodyne - but in this case Ellroy may just be telling the truth.

Tim Willocks

tim willocks writer novelist review Tim Willocks has had a rather more interesting life than the average novelist - which probably explains why his writing is so distinctive. As a doctor to drug addicts and the criminally insane he's had the chance to research the depths; in his writing he plumbs those depths to produce works of power and hardness.

Saturday 5 February 2011

BBC Books Season

great expectations david lean Hallelujah! The BBC has discovered books. Long after the literary landscape on UK terrestrial TV was abandoned bar Richard and Judy's choices, finally we have some potentially decent programmes on the way.

Friday 4 February 2011

Ross Thomas: Yellow-Dog Contract

"Shit, I never thought about killing myself," Murfin said and I believed him. He doubtless lumped suicide with devil worship, witchcraft, animal sodomy, group therapy and other wicked pursuits that he felt to be crimes against both man and nature.

Monday 24 January 2011

John Connolly: Dark Hollow

john connolly dark hollow review A gun battle between Mafiosi and Cambodian thugs, a dead Fed, a kidnap victim long murdered and a low level but violent criminal on the run with two million dollars -- John Connolly kicks off the second Charlie Parker novel Dark Hollow with a bang. Throw in an old woman shooting herself out of fear of the name of a children's bogeyman and hold on for the ride.

Saturday 15 January 2011

John Connolly: Every Dead Thing

john connolly every dead thing review The first full-length novel featuring Charlie Parker, alcoholic homicide detective -- he stumbles home from a bar to find the bloody corpses of his wife and daughter. The Travelling Man, serial killer, has slaughtered Parker's family; fate and malice will eventually bring the two of them together in a scene that would delight Hitchcock and Tarantino.

Sunday 9 January 2011

Carl Hiaasen: Strip Tease

carl hiaasen strip tease striptease Erin is a stripper at the Eager Beaver. Congressman Dilbeck is in love with her: so deeply that he objects to another customer approaching her by beating his skull in with an empty champagne bottle.

Fortunately for Dilbeck he's been pushing government money into the pockets of certain large sugar producers for so long that they look after him, in more ways than one. Such indiscretions get hushed up. Or buried.

Amazon Reviews And Christians

Oh dear, I've upset a fundamentalist or two. Plus had a pop at Sarah Palin. Before I meet my rightful fate and go on to burn in everlasting flames, let's have a bit of waffle about me and what I do and don't believe.