on 25 June 2012
Apart from being an unputdownable psychological crime thriller, a police procedural and - dare I say it - a horror story, this is also a highly intelligent literary novel - a classic I'm sure will be around for a long time to come. And although there are scenes that will make your flesh creep, and which could only have come from the author's extraordinary powers of imagination, everything else about the book feels uncannily real and authentic.
I only realised after I had read Robert Adams' biography on his Amazon Author Page that this is not surprising. For he has clearly drawn on his own experiences gleaned from his plethora of occupations: from gardener to university professor, prison officer to social worker - and a host of other notable activities. He is also a published poet and short story writer, literary judge and . . . well I could go on and on so you should scroll down and read for yourself about this amazing writer.
So why have I never heard of him before?
The shock and horror I felt when the antagonist's first victim was graphically eaten alive by an army of hungry ants was tempered by the page-turning intrigue of the nail-biting crime detection and police procedure. The author has a clever way of leaving you gasping for more about the actual crimes of this serial killer, while the deceptively placid lives of the main characters unfold in front of your eyes as though you are watching them on a big screen. There is also a vivid sense of place that transports you to the city and surrounds of Hull, making this relatively little publicised part of Yorkshire seem enticingly inviting.
Apart from Graver, the unknown murderer whom we nevertheless get to know intimately through a series of psychologically revealing letters he purposely leaves at the scenes of each gruesome crime, the other main characters are equally deeply portrayed. Professor Tom Fortius' obsession with the study of ant behaviour is the driving force in the fascinating revelation the book gives us of these often ignored insects. And you can't help loving the over-educated Oxford graduate, Detective Chief Inspector Chris Winchester, whose feminine attributes do not go unnoticed by the professor - yet another slant to this multifaceted novel.
If it were possible, I would give this book six stars.
on 13 July 2012
If you are interested in ants or in the mind(s) of one who is obsessed with them then there is much to enjoy in this book.
However, if you are more interested in believable characters, accurate police procedures, logical plot development and credible time lines then you may be slightly less wowed.
Much repetition (red light and thunder, along with tattoo sidetracks are prime examples) and there are odd plot vagaries (the main episode with T`s children leaps around very strangely and sometimes seems to be treated as a side issue). Relationships also seem off-key throughout.
But I did read it and wanted to find out whodunnit, hence 3 stars rather than fewer.
on 2 October 2012
If you're looking for an easy read and a run of the mill crime novel then this isn't the book for you, but if you're looking for something gripping and out of the ordinary, I can thoroughly recommend Antman. From the very beginning, Robert Adams skillfully intersperses the unfolding and interrelated sagas of the lives and concerns of the main characters (all potential victims we come to fear) with glimpses into the disordered mind and increasingly scary life project of the Antman. From the very beginning a note of menace made me want, at one and the same time, to read on and to not read on. Robert Adams' compelling writing ensured that I did, and I was well rewarded for that. It is clear that Robert is very knowledgeable about ants and their potential as a species and this makes the story, fantastical as it may seem on one level, very believable on another - and therein lies the menace. In his acknowledgements, Robert refers to 2 antmen. After reading this novel, you may come to agree with me that there are 3.
So, if you like your crime novels to be intelligently written and with a refreshing twist, then I can recommend this one to you. But beware - you may never be able to look at an ant in the same light again!