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G. Anderton
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Shepherd's Cross: A supernatural thriller
Shepherd's Cross: A supernatural thriller
Price: £1.99

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Whisky bargains available now!, 28 May 2015
Trite and carelessly written, though I did finish it, hence two stars. It's a clunky and obvious narrative, featuring some characters from central casting. The "villain" of the piece is a a devil-worshipping academic (plus obligatory henchman who says things like "Yes, Master" all the time). This main character has a hooded cloak (of course he does!) and a pantomime villain way of speaking. (Anyone who watches "Family Guy" - think Peter Griffin's mustachio'd evil twin, Thaddeus Griffin.) Here's a typical example - "Permit me to come straight to the point, Mr Carter. I am here to kill you." Anyway, the pair rent a ruined manor house in the remote and isolated North Pennines with a history of satanic activity, as you'd expect. You couldn't crowbar in any more cliches if you tried.

The supporting cast don't fare much better. There's a series of unconvincing expository passages, such as when the postmistress invites two incomers for lunch to tell them the grim tale of local witch trials. Except the characters she invites - young wives from the new housing development - are nasty and rude, so why would she bother to invite them into her home and tell them anything at all? I see the need to communicate that background to the reader, but surely there would have been a more believable way to do it?

As mentioned, characterisation is a problem. One of these two young women, upon hearing the tale, exclaims, "Poppycock!" How old is she? In her twenties, we presume from what else we are told. I for one have never heard anyone from that generation say that unless in jest, and I very much doubt that anyone else has. We have a police officer, Cara, a professional adult woman, whose idea of interacting with a potential lover is to stick her tongue out at him (this happens more than once). The "banter" in this relationship is excruciating. It seems the writer has little idea of how people actually speak and behave, and all of these details conspire to rob the story of any verisimilitude.

There are a multitude of careless technical language mistakes, and other lazy errors. The alcoholic priest (I know!) is queuing in the local village store. In his basket are "eight cans of strong cider and a half-litre bottle of scotch whisky". When he is asked to pay, several pages later, the total is £13.55. I'd very much like to shop there myself, at those prices. And I'd also like to see a half litre bottle of whisky, since I never have, a bottle being 70cl and a half-bottle being 35cl.

It may seem that these are minor details, but they really are not. They undermine the story, interrupting the narrative as the reader stops to say to themselves, "You what?" And really, if you can't be bothered to check over the details of the book you are writing or that you are publishing, it comes over as a contempt for your reader. As I said at the outset, I did read it to the end, but I will not be choosing to read anything else by this writer in the future. The thing about supernatural stories is that the background - the characters, the circumstances - has to be rock-solidly believable, and then the reader can be persuaded to believe in the reality of the paranormal elements. If that context isn't provided, then the thing fails to convince, as here.


A Trick of the Mind
A Trick of the Mind
Price: £4.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The grammar's terrible, too, 23 April 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
First, on a technical point - boy, does this need an editor. We're 6% in before there's mention of a fire and how they should "dowse" the flames, for instance. The grammar's terrible, too, because no-one seems to know what commas are for or how to use them. But this is of a piece, sadly, with the slapdash nature of the book. It's full of implausible plot points - I won't bore you, but the main one is the character of the protagonist. Even though we are presented with a character who is, we're asked to believe, competent enough to have studied for a degree and then to have qualified as a teacher, the whole of the plot depends on her being incredibly stupid, and on making decisions and performing actions that make absolutely no sense. Here's just one example.
I have become convinced that my boyfriend murdered his wife because she announced she was leaving him. Do I a) leave his flat as normal, being careful not to arouse his suspicions, and then make good my escape? Or b) write him a note telling him I am leaving him, and put it on his pillow, so he is quite likely to wake and has plenty of time to read it before I can get out of the flat?
And so it goes on.
The other characters are thinly drawn stereotypes and ending is ridiculous, too. It's like a short story ending - and then X turns up and then Y is handily dead and then that's that. Bingo bango.


Other Halves (Hannah series Book 2)
Other Halves (Hannah series Book 2)
Price: £1.19

2.0 out of 5 stars ... unrealistic story arc that almost magically resolves to a happy ending. It reminded me of a short story ..., 16 April 2015
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Characters that are either uninteresting or unappealing in an unrealistic story arc that almost magically resolves to a happy ending. It reminded me of a short story in a old-style women's magazine.


TheSecret Place (Dublin Murder Squad series Book 5)
TheSecret Place (Dublin Murder Squad series Book 5)
Price: £4.99

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The main reason I found this novel tedious was simply its length, 13 Mar. 2015
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Overlong and unengaging.The main reason I found this novel tedious was simply its length, which is way in excess of what's justified by the flimsy story. There's much to make the reader lose patience, too - the endless "um, hello, OMG" way the girls' speech is rendered, the caricatured way some of the characters are presented, and last and worst, a completely redundant and ridiculous theme involving telekinesis. No, really. I did read to the end, but only dogged determination kept me going. This was the first book I had read by this writer, and it will probably be the last.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 15, 2015 12:56 PM BST


The Girl on the Train
The Girl on the Train
Price: £6.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nothing to write home about, 9 Feb. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I didn't think this was anything special; a bit of a pot-boiler, really. It's an obvious punt at the "Gone Girl" market, but the characters aren't interesting enough and the unfolding plot is predictable. On the whole, not as good as I, for some reason, expected it to be.


The Secret of You
The Secret of You
Price: £3.99

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not an experience I would repeat., 25 Jan. 2015
This review is from: The Secret of You (Kindle Edition)
Unrealistic and one-dimensional characters in unrealistic and cliched situations. I suppose it's okay if you want something that's easy to read on a journey or on the beach, but the whole thing crumbles to dust if you bring to bear any sense of the real world. A world where people do not end up on television chat shows practically a day after vaguely telling a friend their frankly unbelievable story, a story which no-one is able to verify. A world where a load of tat bought on eBay (sequinned cushions, whimsical china figurines, a box of scarves) can be the sole inventory of a public auction at a country house owned by a prestigious antiquarian, to which people - fellow antique collectors - actually go. A world where the idea of a woman being over three hundred years old can be raised as a plot point, and them dropped without further discussion, explanation or inquiry.
There'a a problem with the editing, too. Numerous times towards the beginning of the book we are told how a character has threatened someone with his "canon", a "hoard" of journalists appears at one point, and the writer and the editor seem to think that an "enormity" is a very big thing or a large quantity. These are schoolboy errors, and just add to the impression that the book is quickly written, and meant to be skimmed through, and it's not expected that the reader will find time to question the verisimilitude of the action or the accuracy of the language.


Funny Girl
Funny Girl
Price: £4.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sorry, Nick, but, you know..., 23 Jan. 2015
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This review is from: Funny Girl (Kindle Edition)
Nick Hornby's always readable, so there's a standard below which things never fall. But this is an unremarkable book with an entirely predictable narrative, populated by a set of cliched characters straight from central casting. Pretty much everything about it is tired, including the Atonement-style jump into the present at the end. And that's the problem, really - everything feels like a dim echo of something that's been better done elsewhere.


Out of the Ordinary: True Tales of Everyday Craziness
Out of the Ordinary: True Tales of Everyday Craziness
by Jon Ronson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.98

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Mixed Bag, 14 Jun. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought this book having read and enjoyed "Lost at Sea", which has been published more recently. What I hadn't realised was that "Lost at Sea" was a rehash of a lot of earlier material, much of which appears in "Out of the Ordinary". So don't make the same mistake I did. So, this is a mix of replicated material - which is fine if you haven't already read it - and more personally-based material which works, for me, much less well.


The Bellwether Revivals
The Bellwether Revivals
by Benjamin Wood
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Do Not Resuscitate, 13 Mar. 2013
The reality of this book falls short of the conception on a lot of levels, is my feeling. The writer has a tin ear for dialogue - who talks like this in real life? - and this contributes to the way in which the characters fail to convince. The central group of young people seems implausible - what's their motivation for belonging? We are asked (or, rather, expected) to believe this is because Eden Bellwether is so charismatic and compelling in his role as proto-cult-leader, but on the page he is just annoying, rude and an obvious nutter, lacking in any of the charm that might make the master/disciples dynamic credible.

There's no point in my rehashing what other reviewers have said about the late availability of May Ball tickets and suchlike instances of dubious factual accuracy. By far the most irritating aspect of the text is the writer's use of what he would appear to think are novel and arresting lexical choices - at one point Iris thakes a "gentle" sip of water - that just don't work at all. There are load of these; that's just one example I can call to mind just now. It's a try-hard strategy that does not come off. Having, presumably, been aiming for original and striking, it just ends up sounding as if English isn't his first language.

The effect of all this is that, finally, if you don't believe in the characters you don't care about what happens to them. So I didn't.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 25, 2013 10:44 AM GMT


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