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NickR (UK)

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Darkness at Pemberley
Darkness at Pemberley
by T. H. White
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A pleasant surprise, 1 May 2015
This review is from: Darkness at Pemberley (Paperback)
This book was an early blind alley in White's writing career, so I'd expected to be disappointed. Yes, it's a bit ragged in places, the characterisation is thin, and some of the inter-war thriller tropes are pushed to the limit (e.g. the disgraced baronet's staff being reduced to 'just sixteen') but the dramatic premises are exciting, almost Greek in their elemental simplicity. As has been said, think Geoffrey Household, Erskine Childers, Rider Haggard. It was a good read, and I'm sorry that White never gave Inspector Buller another outing. (Did he?)


The Lady from Zagreb (Bernie Gunther Mystery 10)
The Lady from Zagreb (Bernie Gunther Mystery 10)
by Philip Kerr
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.91

12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Incredible, 12 April 2015
But not incredible in a good way. I'm a long-time fan of Bernie Gunther, and wanted to enjoy this book more.

The good news: Bernie is still stroppy and still pure at heart, the authorial research, the history and the period atmosphere seem to be spot on, the tension is terrific, and the book reads well.

The problem is that the series has become tired. Mr Kerr should take time away from Bernie Gunther. It is literally incredible that Bernie would take the risks he does, yet continue to have privileged access to the highest levels of the Nazi structure. This incredibility undermines a great deal of the plot. It's almost as if Philip Kerr is seeing how far he can tease us before someone calls his bluff. "Realism plays very badly in modern fiction", says one of his characters, a Swiss author with whom he claims "a great affinity" in the book's epilogue, and I think Mr Kerr, for all his historical realism, is losing interest in fictive realism.

The prose is frequently laboured; the dialogue, particularly in the early part of the book, is stilted; the writing is sometimes lazy or badly edited. Who takes the blame - author or editor - for sentences such as "Taking me by the arm we went outside"?

I got the feeling that some of Bernie's feel-good behaviour, such as his cash gift to Jewish labourers in Berlin, might have been required for a particular audience. Dare I say it - an American one. And then, in the epilogue again, we find that the book was written at the request of the US publisher, despite Philip Kerr's doubts. Mr Kerr, you were right, your publisher was wrong. Give Bernie a rest, please. He's a fabulous character, and he'll be much better if you set him aside for a few years.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 21, 2015 3:10 PM BST


10:04
10:04
by Ben Lerner
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £10.49

4.0 out of 5 stars An early candidate for Novel of the Year, 23 Jan. 2015
This review is from: 10:04 (Hardcover)
Ben Lerner showed terrific promise in Leaving the Atocha Station. Now he's delivering. I think we really do have a major new novelist here. The book is playful on many levels and - as others have commented - it repays patient reading.

The only reason I've not given five stars is that I'm still waiting to see if Lerner can write himself into a different protagonist.


The Bone Clocks
The Bone Clocks
by David Mitchell
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £10.00

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fine but flawed, 16 Sept. 2014
This review is from: The Bone Clocks (Hardcover)
It’s always a treat to read a new book by David Mitchell, who is probably one of the best story-tellers writing in English at present, whatever his chosen voice.

Ultimately, though, The Bone Clocks doesn’t quite click. The first four sections are slow to cohere, but offer many discrete pleasures: the gobby teenager; the repellent student; the war correspondent who makes the wrong choice; the marvellously bilious novellist who sort-of comes good. However, the fifth section is just plain silly, in a Dennis Wheatley kind of way, and the final section, which is sad and horribly prescient, belongs in a different novel.

Mitchell's narrative skills, as ever, are of the highest quality.


Total Recall
Total Recall
Dvd
Price: £9.99

2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars, 4 Aug. 2014
What a disappointment. A total let-down.


Abattoir Blues: The 22nd DCI Banks Mystery (Inspector Banks 22)
Abattoir Blues: The 22nd DCI Banks Mystery (Inspector Banks 22)
by Peter Robinson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £10.00

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sharp as a knife!, 1 Aug. 2014
It's always a pleasure to read a new book by Peter Robinson, and I went through this one in one (long) sitting. It's familiar Banks stuff, and darker than usual. The season is winter; the farms and villages are grim or derelict; the crimes range from the prosaic to the revolting; and the villains, major and minor, are satisfyingly horrible. Dirty Dick Burgess is back, Winsome gets her man (hurray!), Annie Cabbot is as mardy as ever (and who shall blame her?), and Banks still eats and drinks heroically with no apparent effect on his liver or his waistline. It's all very enjoyable. More, please!
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 9, 2014 8:19 AM GMT


Ripper
Ripper
by Isabel Allende
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.08

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A dreadful book, 11 May 2014
This review is from: Ripper (Paperback)
There's no point in mocking a genre unless you understand it. Isabel Allende clearly doesn't. This is a travesty, and does her no favours.


The Siege
The Siege
by Arturo Pérez-Reverte
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.48

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A splendid big book, 8 April 2014
This review is from: The Siege (Paperback)
I really enjoyed this book, which covers an enormous canvas. If it's swashbuckling you want, as a reader, your swash will be buckled. If it's warfare, there's plenty of that - a shabby, depressing, ugly, particularly futile type of warfare. If it's flawed characters, there are plenty of those. I think what I enjoyed most was the picture of life in Cádiz, which - despite being bombarded and under siege - still managed to seem a proud, fine city.

The finale... Well, the journey was better than the arrival; so much better that the slightly weak ending didn't bother me.

All credit to the translator, Frank Wynne, whose prose is light, elegant and seems effortless. And a few boos to the editors or proof-readers, who have left a surprising number of errors in the book, not least a brigantine '800 feet in length', which even to this naive reader is clearly wrong.


The Long Fall: A Novel
The Long Fall: A Novel
by Walter Mosley
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book, 27 Mar. 2014
This review is from: The Long Fall: A Novel (Paperback)
I envy readers who haven't yet discovered Walter Mosley - you have a real treat ahead of you. His books are engaging and complex, his characters humane. Yes, they all have a greater or lesser chip on their shoulders (and quite rightly - who could be black in the United States and not have?) but their concerns are universal and will be familiar to most readers.

I'm simply amazed to find that this book was published in 2009, and hasn't yet received a single review on the UK Amazon site.

AMEND: it has. Don't know how I missed them.


Prokofiev: Piano Concertos [Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, Gianandrea Noseda]
Prokofiev: Piano Concertos [Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, Gianandrea Noseda]
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £22.72

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A revelation, 25 Mar. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I'm not competent to compare this with other recordings, but it was a revelation for me. My exposure to Prokofiev has been quite limited, so I was stunned to discover in these concertos a musical language which was coherent, distinctive, confident, and which spoke so strongly to me. Wonderful.


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