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Hardeep (wolverhampton)

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Bad Signs
Bad Signs
by R.J. Ellory
Edition: Paperback
Price: 10.80

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just an incredible piece of work, 15 July 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Bad Signs (Paperback)
Their aren't really any more ways to describe this great author. What a book.

Two boys, a bad start, a worse future and a god-awful psychopath thrown into the mix. A Sixties setting and 9 days.

Now add craft, depth, deep-down-in-your-belly emotion, beautifully written prose, an amazing plot and the indescribable Ellory factor. The result: Bad Signs, his best work thus far.

RJE has always been complimented for his characterisation, it is one of his hallmarks, however this novel just seems to move things onto a new plateau. I love and hate so many of the characters in this book. So much so that I read it slowly to stop the inevitable moment when it would finish and I would no longer have them. I am not just referring to characters like Bailey Redman, Clarence Luckman, but also those such as Smithy or Alice Cassidy who are all imbued with a reality that you feel in your bones.

I appreciate that this isn't a classic review, with more details of the plot, but I would like other people to read it and FEEL it like I did. Feel the fear, the joy, the anger, horror, the hope, the empathy and the variant gamut of emotions RJE can send you through.

Generally, I love novels, but I do notice something a different with RJE's writing. It doesn't feel like reading, it's like experiencing art thorough the pages of a book. Wow.

Saints of New York
Saints of New York
Price: 4.49

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brave, gritty and superlative., 31 Oct 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
RJ Ellory is a special talent. Those who have read many or most of his previous novels have made this point since Candlemoth. Saints of New York only serves to emphasize.

The major protagonist, Detective Frank Parish is introduced to us in a scene of graphic violence involving a suicide and a murder. Having finished the novel - I think that this was apt, as it prepares you for what is to come.

Ellory is relentless and uncompromising in telling this story, there is no dressing up or pampered censoring, leaving this reader at times punch drunk from some of content.: the disturbing world of exploitation and snuff movies that is at the heart of the novel. I do not believe that it could have been told any other way, and I acknowledge the author for this.

Soon enough Parish is embroiled in a case consecutively more harrowing and sinister. As he becomes more tightly wrapped and obsessed within it, we see his personal life unravel.

What strikes you is the balance in the story. Ellory does not overdo Parrish's personal life, leaving it distinctly believable, whilst at the same time progressing the main story with skilled dexterity. Revelatory prices of information fed to the reader with a precision that moves the story at a pace that feels natural.

As in the past the dénouement is well crafted, credible and satisfying. You will need a strong stomach, but in a literary sense it is more than worth it.

Tough, uncompromising, suffused with creativity and brilliance. Do read it - but be ready.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 3, 2011 6:20 PM GMT

Kill Your Friends
Kill Your Friends
by John Niven
Edition: Paperback

53 of 56 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I feel broken..., 10 Nov 2009
This review is from: Kill Your Friends (Paperback)
I'm not sure I should be spending time actually reviewing this, as getting down on my knees and praying for the salvation of humanity might be a better use of my time. Don't get me wrong, in my opinion, it was a very good novel. However, I thought the protagonist was simply the worst humanity has to offer, the personification of Satan on earth. The depths that "Steven Stelfox" sinks to make you feel violated in a way that only a shower with brillo pads could expunge. Truly a character to sully the soul.

Paradoxically, I couldn't put the damn thing down. It is incredibly well written, as is any novel with a character that has a strong emotional effect. The author is talented, and hilarious.

Nivens depictions of Stelfox's thought process are side-splitting as well as repellent. He seems to have turned the curse ridden one-liner into an art form. Which is a relief because without the exquisite humour, the novel wouldn't work, as it would be so debauched that I would have thrown in on the fire. The humour keeps it just light enough to engage with a very real, if evil, character, the likes of which I have never seen before - and hope I never have any close dealings with.

The story covers one year in the music business, and in much the same way as "City Boy" by Geraint Anderson reveals the dark underbelly of the finance industry, this does the same for record labels. The difference being that it is hard to see any upside, or how anyone could stand up to so much alcohol and drug abuse, while still being able to utter a coherent sentence.

Murder, drugs, pornography, booze and more booze are the staple diet of Stelfox. The dark humoured look into his twisted mind lifts the lid on the ruinous side to this industry and the intoxicating lure of fame and adoration. Finally evolving itself to a basic drive to be intoxicated with almost anything that destroys brain cells and morality

It was recommended to me that I read "American psycho" as a follow up, but I'm not sure I could take it at the moment; the torment from this novel has addled my brain.

Stelfox is horrible, but it is rubbernecked fiction at its best. As I said before, Niven's style of written humour is simply exceptional. If you're easily offended don't bother. If you enjoy being offended maybe you should be in the book. If you're curious and don't mind being slightly sickened, in exchange for being made to laugh then read it. I'm confused now so I'm going to stop.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 5, 2013 7:21 PM GMT

Cityboy: Beer and Loathing in the Square Mile
Cityboy: Beer and Loathing in the Square Mile
by Geraint Anderson
Edition: Paperback
Price: 9.19

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I quite liked it actually, 9 Nov 2009
For those looking for further ammunition, and to confirm all they thought ill about decadent bankers, in "City Boy" Geraint Anderson is so kind as to provide an entire arsenal of armour piercing bullets. Decadence, debauchery, disproportionate remuneration and soul-sapping resentment fly off the page in vicious arcing uppercuts.

The quick narrative follows the rise of a London stockbroker, through the ranks of the square mile. We follow his start as a wayward hippy into the unexpected position of megalomaniac investment superhero. Against my expectations I quite enjoyed reading about the arrogance driven, short selling, god complex route through this world, although I'm not sure id enjoy actually meeting many of these er... people. That is of course if Anderson's depictions are accurate, city types could in reality be fluffy-bunny style loveable characters who just got a few sums wrong during the credit crunch.........mmmm.

The novel is illuminated by lots of colourful if horrid characters, and viciously funny one-liners. I was very entertained but did find some of the hypocrisy a bit wearing. The "drugs are so normal" tone running throughout the book is also a bit annoying (yes I know they're normal for a lot of people but I don't care).
In summary if you want an overview to the dark side of the city with fat "all you can eat" portions of sarcasm then this does the trick. Very good for a debut.

The Anniversary Man
The Anniversary Man
by R.J. Ellory
Edition: Hardcover

24 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Utter brilliance! With RJ Ellory, that's not really a surprise., 3 Nov 2009
This review is from: The Anniversary Man (Hardcover)
For those accustomed to RJE's unique talent, a new novel brings very high expectations. With many authors such expectation is followed by inevitable disappointment. However, RJE is no mere "normal" talent, and fittingly he again meets and exceeds them.

"The Anniversary Man" is an unstinting feast of all that is engaging about good research, everything that is terrifying about the darker side to human nature and all that is artistically captivating about skilfully delivered prose.

Ray Irving and John Costello are the major protagonists who drive the story. A spate of killings quickly link into one another, and Detective Ray Irving, of New York's Finest, begins his trail of a serial killer who always seems so many steps ahead of him. Bewildered and frustrated, Irving enlists the help of the unusual Costello, a man emotionally marked by his experience of living beyond a serial killer attack. Costello's special skills and expertise add insight for Irving who brings him on board despite misgivings about Costello's involvement with the mysterious Winterbourne group.

Both Irving and Costello are wonderfully drawn characters, but then so are Karen Langley and Captain Faraday. Ellorys skill in characterisation seems to improve with each novel, and as others have already said the characters stay with you for a long time afterwards. Irving is so real, it's a wonder you can't actually hear him breathing through the book

Ellory also seems to have increased the pace in this novel, not that I complained in the past, his prose is the sort that you wish to savour rather than rush, but the pace suited on this occasion, making it a devour all, oh my goodness is that the time, sort of read.

The lucid descriptions and exceptional research bring to life the structure and format of a police investigation, a gritty look at what real-life police analysis is, and what a detective would have to deal with. In many movies and novels, we see an almost inhuman intelligence or unlikely quantities of serendipity which lead to resolution. Not with this novel, it is another tour de force, bold realism, living breathing characters, skilful prose and industrious groundwork come together to produce a final third of finesse, skill and tension.

There are sections of the story that are harrowing, that create an emotional effect, but you also are left with the notion of the inherent decency of people pulling through all that life throws at them. Superb by Ellory, and as with his other works, I recommend you read it.
Comment Comments (8) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 4, 2012 1:29 PM BST

Deal Breaker
Deal Breaker
by Harlan Coben
Edition: Paperback

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining if diluted, 3 Nov 2009
This review is from: Deal Breaker (Paperback)
This is the second Harlan Coben book I have read and one must give credit to author for his immense ability to create pace, engender suspense, and fashion mystery.

The plot follows the exotically named sports agent Myron Bolitar through a novel packed with suspense and wonderful wit. Things begin as Bolitar's number one client; Christian "the next big thing" Steele contacts him, upset and shaken by a ghost from the past. A missing ex-girlfriend seemingly back from the dead.
We then follow the narrative though its litany of unscrupulous characters, sharp turns and ever darker swerves into the mystery surrounding the disappearance of Steele's ex girlfriend. The novel is hard to put down much of the time; however it didn't seem as well structured as Coben's other work. It is important to point out that this is a very early Coben book, possibly even his first.

The story is thoroughly enjoyable until its final act. Here all mystery and suspense seems to just unravel and fall into place in a way that was so reminiscent of "Murder She Wrote" I could actually hear the tune playing in my head! The ending felt rushed, almost as though the author had run out of paper and only used half the words he needed This detracted from much of the good work that build up to it. Like I said in the title, entertaining, but the conclusion dilutes the whole thing.

It is a fast read with superb one liners and wit. There is enough in the main body of the novel to keep me curious about the further Bolitar novels, so much so that I've bought the next two. Have a read, you won't be bowled over, but I think it would be hard to complain about the lack of entertainment.

Seven Pounds [DVD] [2009]
Seven Pounds [DVD] [2009]
Dvd ~ Will Smith
Offered by WorldCinema
Price: 3.88

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Emotionally exceptional, 27 July 2009
This review is from: Seven Pounds [DVD] [2009] (DVD)
This is an exceptional piece of cinema. The film is so beautifully filmed, with performances that resonated for days. All hail Will Smith, Rosario Dawson, Woody Harrelson and Barry Pepper for thier wonderful utter emersion in thier roles.

The movie is a slow burner, it does take a while to get going but that builds the story correctly, and makes the final denoument a giant among all I have seen. I simply dont have the superlatives to express my love for this film. Watch it, emotionally commit to it, and you will be taken on a sad but beautiful journey.

The Catcher in the Rye
The Catcher in the Rye
by J. D. Salinger
Edition: Paperback

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Oh, so that's why people rave about Salinger..., 1 Feb 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Catcher in the Rye (Paperback)
The first thing that struck me about this was that it was published in 1945, and yet still retains such wonderful originality. This novel is the story of a few days in the life of the disordered, confused and angst ridden world of Holden Caulfied.

The form is mostly that of Caulfield's thoughts printed into the page as they occur. The thoughts; unadulterated and unedited, so as to give a purity of feeling and expression from the character, with little or no social mechanics.

I can understand that some may not like Holden Caulfield, but has any novel got into the psyche, fears, compulsions of character like this, before or since? I agree the book doesn't really have a clear plot, a start, middle or end, but to complain about such is to sail right past the point. This is a novel about a character, not the unfolding twists and turns of an orthodox story. My interest kept by the unwitting humour of Holden's rather unique view on everyone and everything.

He is a character that in real life would probably drive you crazy, a person who would irk one, whilst he simultaneously felt guilt for being irksome. A cacophony of confusion and contradiction, but at the base of it a character seeking to find his way though the perplexity so as to feel joy, and not commit unintended harm. This is most beautifully displayed in the paragraph illuminating the reasons for the title "Catcher in the Rye". Wow, what an uplifting heart warming commentary on Holden's nature, so clever, so effortlessly poignant.

This is a book that I would recommend with caution, as I would love every reader to experience the same satisfaction from the story that I did, but it is a marmite novel so be open minded if and when you do pick it up. A story for the intrepid and curious soul, exquisite in its originality with a title that captures the intrinsic meaning more than any other.

Gordon Ramsay's Playing with Fire
Gordon Ramsay's Playing with Fire
by Gordon Ramsay
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.39

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interestingly different, 24 Jan 2009
In reading "Gordon Ramsay's Playing with Fire" I was given an interesting overview of the eponymous authors take on the business world. This is set out as a more detailed autobiography on the lessons learnt in business and is a rich canvas of detail, written with passion and adroit execution.

We learn of the incredible growth of "Brand Ramsay", or more correctly "Ramsay Holdings" from its genesis on Royal Hospital Road through to the hospitality powerhouse it has now become.

For me the most interesting aspects of the book involve Ramsay's partner and father-in-law Chris Hutcheson. Ramsay is generous in affording due credit to the business acumen of Hutcheson which, it transpires, was as pivotal in Ramsay's success as the talents of the expletive laden chef himself.

The narrative of Hutchinson's actions, diligence and drive in business adds colour and texture to story of stellar growth. This book is indeed about business, but I think the ghost-writer also deserved credit in that he makes the subject interesting to those who would normally choose not to venture into this field of reading.

I respect Ramsay for admitting his entrepreneurial mistakes and he shows more humility than some would expect. Unfortunately this refreshing honesty is seemingly always tainted by an incessant need to personally abuse some individual also associated with a failure, a person that Ramsay has no doubt broken contact with.

For example, when referring to an ex member of staff Ramsay refers to her as a "fat, self-contented moose". Now it is up to him who he insults, and even though he doesn't mention this person's name, there will be people who know who she is, but she cannot commensurately defend herself. This is isn't the only occurrence, and it leaves a rather bad taste.

However, that really is my only complaint, as on the whole this is a vibrant book full of excellent tips for those looking to run their own business, as a restaurateur or otherwise. As with "Humble Pie" it is a lesson in perseverance and hard work, again proving that much of what is seen as natural talent is pure graft. Ramsay certainly has talent, as a businessman as well as a chef, but this has been earned, and not bestowed. Earned through blood, sweat and tears.

The Ghost
The Ghost
by Robert Harris
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.19

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mmm, not sure about this...good i think.., 11 Jan 2009
This review is from: The Ghost (Paperback)
My feeling regards this novel are rather ambivalent, I cant quite decide whether it was a fairly good novel or a somewhat poor one. The basis of the plot is that our protagonist is newly contracted as a replacement ghost-writer. His project? The much awaited memoirs of controversial ex Prime Minister Adam Lang. A character with more than a few personality traits pointedly similar to our own Mr Tony Blair.

The new ghost-writer begins the laborious task of rewriting the memoirs of his illustrious client on a New England retreat in its down time of inclemency and bone chilling gusts of freezing wind. As the novel progresses we see the unravelling of a conspiracy and suspicions arise about the unfortunate demise of former ghost writer and loyal public servant Mike McAra.

Although I expected the story to flow quickly I found it uninspiring at times, without being able to describe why, and then diametrically on other occasions I was so engrossed that I couldn't understood how or why I hadn't read it for a few days.

The main character's cynicism and humour was wonderfully entertaining in its moments. Harris is no amateur at building good characters and does not fail here with the protagonist being vividly tangible, even if the plot didn't always warrant such a description.

In the final analysis the story promised much but lacked the final nerve jangling resolution that the early prose suggested. The novel is very much an undulation of interesting and uninspiring, which lead this reader to at times feel a deep affinity with the author for his obvious talent and also to feel a desire just to get the book over with as one's interest ebbed.

I have seen what others have said about Robert Harris and I will therefore read more novels by him. This however, though entertaining and well structured, was missing a bit of tension and excitement. I don't regret reading it and I think I'll decide eventually that it was rather good. At this point I would limit my effusive exclamations to simply recommending it to those with a general interest in politics or those looking for a light witty read.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 26, 2010 2:33 PM BST

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