What else have I been up to when I’ve not been allocating pieces of my mind to the reeducation of young whippersnappers? Spot of reading, believe it or not… Since I last posted about books, I’ve read THREE books. Two were new installments by old favourites, t’other was a newish find.
In no particular order, I’ve read Personal by Lee Child – this is the 19th installment in the Jack Reacher series. This time, Jack’s off to London to show those poms a bit of what for. It was one of the better ones, strangely enough. Even though it totally overstepped the bounds of plausibility on so many levels. As if the US Army would fly a loose cannon such as Mr Reacher to Paris then London to track down a sniper… Hrrm. I’ve checked a couple of other reviews of this book, and the pendulum is swinging. This is a love or hate book for a lot of people that read it.
Personally, I found it to be better written and less formulaic than the last few. I suppose there’s only so many towns someone can casually arrive in, beat the crappers out of a few people then get on the next bus out of town, so it wasn’t a bad thing that Mr Reacher left the country. (You would think in these days of the interwebs and all that, the small town police would be on to Jack Reacher by now). Plus the ‘obvious shag interest’ wasn’t. This wasn’t a bad thing at all. I mean, the actual Jack Reacher (as distinct from the small and shiny Mr Cruise) is probably quite hot in a manly kind of way, but he gets laid way more often than one would consider seemly. I digress. Not so much shagging. Only a relatively small amount of biffo and a greater reliance on weaponry, which is ironic seeing as it’s set in the UK where (mostly) only the villains have guns rather than well, just about everybody. So yeah, enjoyed it. Bit of serious couch time invested in this book, and it was a good old fashioned straight up mystery rather than secret agendas and personal politics.
Now, onto the second book…
The Skeleton Road by Val McDermid is a stand alone thriller with a different detective (DI Karen Pirie – who was in A Darker Domain as well). Now, I do enjoy Ms McDerimd’s books as a rule. She does really good slightly icky crime and decent whodunnits as well. This falls into the second category. A skeleton is found on the roof of an abandoned building, and DI Pirie and her colleagues work to find out who the body belongs to. In parallel, Maggie Blake, an Oxford don is turning 50 and she’s reflecting on parts of her life, including her younger days in the Balkans during the Balkan wars.
I didn’t mind it, but it was sort of paint by numbers. Like, I worked out who it was what was dead, *and* had a fair idea about who it was what dunnit well before the reveal. I don’t like that in a book. I want to go along for the ride, and be surprised and shocked along with everyone else when the denouement is reached. It wasn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination. It was well written, the characters were well rounded, the story was actually quite interesting. It was just a bit meh. Disappoint.
And the third book…
Now, this one was a wild ride. Night Film by Marisha Pessl is really trippy. I’m a fairly visual reader and generally read in full, glorious technicolour. This was black and white, with a splash of colour here and there, shaky hand held camera and everything. Sort of a cross between a David Lunch film and – not really sure what else. It was creepy and spooky and nothing at all like Special Topics in Calamity Physics. This is a good thing because of the whole didn’t love the first half of it and didn’t start liking it until it stopped trying to be something else. Night Film, however. Not like anything else I’ve ever read. It was about Stanislas Cordova, a cult film director who had vanished from public life, and Scott McGrath, a has been hack journalist who lost his entire life after going after Cordova. This book was weird, strange, compelling, infuriating (Scott McGrath needed a couple of swift punches to the side of the head. More than once.) and so totally not putting this down-able. To the detriment of that stuff I am supposed to do on weekends… This book was good. You know how I mentioned earlier I liked being taken along for a ride – definitely the case here. And it surely was wild and exciting and peculiar, and I didn’t work it out. Even at the end, I sort of half wasn’t sure about what it was I was reading. I was disappointed to finish it, I wanted to know what happened next next.
That side of the book reminded me of American Psycho. That book was disgusting and disturbing, I couldn’t read it at lunch time, and I couldn’t read it before bed because nightmares. BUT at the end of it, all I could think was that it was all in his head. You know how some people stand away from the edge because they’re worried someone will push them in front of a train. Other people stand back from the edge because they know they’re the someone who might push someone else.