I've been looking at Safe House for a while now, wondering whether or not to buy it, but the sheer numbers of great reviews and the really stupid price made it a no-brainer.
At first I found the change from first person to third person a bit of a facer, but it does get easier and the pace of the plot ensures that the reader just wants to know what the hell is going on. As the owner of a golden retriever, Rocky made me laugh out loud, even though he doesn't play a huge role in the book. So let's deal with plot, setting and characters. The setting is the Isle of Man, a place I have always wanted to visit, though not at TT time, even though I used to be a 'biker's moll'. Ewan draws the landscape with a deft hand, pulling out enough to enable the reader to visualise but not so much that it gets in the way of the narrative. The plot has the kind of convolutions I love in a crime novel. It isn't often I get to the last two pages and I am still not sure who the bad guys are! Likewise there was enough detail about bike racing and bikes to authenticate the setting.
I especially enjoyed the way Menser was written. Calm, thoughtful, amoral, but with the beginnings of a conscience about past deeds. I loved Grandpa, too. I know a few Grandpas! The characters are complete, with the normal contradictions we all possess and that made them all the more believable. There were a couple of what I would call 'speed bumps', the most annoying being when Menser is following Rob into the Sports Centre. The reader 'stands' behind Menser, experiencing his thoughts and reactions. Then comes the sentence 'He didn't see xxx behind him'. Well, he wouldn't, would he? This abrupt shift from Menser's point of view to authorial overview was a jolt. The writing raised enough tension without that and we already knew Menser was being followed, so, sorry, I categorised that as 'lazy' writing and the book didn't benefit from it.
All in all, though, a good read and I will read more.