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alex russell

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The Siege
The Siege
by Arturo Perez-Reverte
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good but Overworked, 16 Jun 2014
This review is from: The Siege (Paperback)
I enjoyed reading this and got immersed in the time, place and situation Perez-Reverte portrays. The four central characters are nicely developed and the author has clearly done his research. His debt to Cadiz and to those who helped his research comes through in his writing. The ending has been criticised here and it is a tad tame given what goes before, and that leads to my main criticism of the novel - it's 560 pages and given it's content it would have benefited from a good editor. Perez-Reverte tends to revisit plot, places and characters, and consequently overworks them. He loves writing. It's overly strong on narrative too, the 'tell' outreaching the 'show', but his characters and places are nevertheless solid. I admire him for the work and craft he's put into the novel, I'm glad I read it and did enjoy the book, but perhaps a shorter word count would give it more impact.

Clutter Buster Drawer Organiser
Clutter Buster Drawer Organiser
Offered by The Holding Company
Price: £13.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, 24 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Clutter Buster Drawer Organiser
You can pigeonhole a nail clipper and it will still be there in the morning. It does what it says it does though perhaps in more mundane language.

All That Is
All That Is
by James Salter
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars I recommend this, 24 Mar 2014
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This review is from: All That Is (Hardcover)
I enjoyed this novel immensely. The Guardian called James Salter ‘One of the great postwar American writers’ and this novel confirms him among them. He is skilled at creating mood – his scenes drafted with a knowing sense of place, and his dialogue often carries considerable poignancy. Yes, ‘All This Is’ has lots of sex scenes, perhaps too many considering its overall theme; some depicted with more than a chauvinistic nod at Updike, which some women may find dissuading. The criticism around the thinness of characterisation is not without some truth too, but the arc covers many people over many years so such worries sort of sidetrack from the point of the novel. It should be added also that Salter can portray the essence of a character in only a few words of description or dialogue.

Taken as a whole this is a powerful book about the human condition. It has had a lasting effect on this reader, which surely is the mark of a work of considerable resonance and depth. It has to be somewhere in my all-time top thirty novels.

Berlin Noir: Penguin eBook (Bernie Gunther Mystery 1)
Berlin Noir: Penguin eBook (Bernie Gunther Mystery 1)
Price: £8.24

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Piggybacking on the shoulders of giants, 27 April 2013
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Reference is made in other reviews to Philip Kerr’s narrative style owing much to Raymond Chandler. There are inescapable parallels because the story apes those of Chandler, and perhaps Hammett. However, Kerr doesn’t deserve to be in the same sentence as those writers. He’s emphatically not standing on the shoulders of giants, merely piggybacking on their success, for this is a cheap 3,000-words-a-day copy.

Kerr has obviously done his homework but his hero, Bernie Gunther, is a pale copy of Philip Marlowe. He is an ex-policeman, drinks scotch, drives an unusual car, takes meals on the hoof, and lovely women clients visit his shabby office, but the parallels end there. Gunther has no originality, questionable morals and essentially an absence of style. The storyline is full of holes, loose ends and over much is made of infamous Nazis.

Trilogies are usually sold as individual stories so I did wonder why this was a package deal. The answer for me is that the discerning reader is unlikely to venture beyond the first volume if they are sold singly. All in all it was disappointing - a cynical attempt to hitch a lift on the shirt-tails of real writers.

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