Top critical review
on 21 January 2016
Now, before I justify this rating, I need to say that I initially rated all four stories contained in this anthology seperately, then generated a mean average rating for the whole anthology from these seperate ratings. To really give you a proper insight, I'll here discuss each of the novels seperately.
The French Confection. (*** [three stars]. Good). Horowitz really should have just left it at Public Enemy. He would have gone out with a bang with that magnificent piece of art. But not only did he go on to produce the - in my view - derisive novel, South by South East; he's now come out with a fourth, which is no better. Okay, let's get the griping and knit-picking out of the way first. Where does this novel fail? Well, in common with South by South, the baddie. Again, we hardly ever see them. However, the difference is - (and this isn't a good difference either) - that they are even more tacky. I can't make an eye or a tail of their motives. Seriously, it's as if they're just being bad for the sake of it. Another reason why this novel fails is that it's COMPLETELY POINTLESS. Malteser and Public Enemy both gave us grotesque, original, action-packed yarns that added something new to the table. This novel doesn't do anything of the sort. The way I see it, Horowitz may just be milking his fame a little bit here...sly.
Okay, griping and knit-picking aside, where does this novel succeed? Well, the action it offers is actually a little better than that present in South by South, and it's not quite as cheesy. If anything, it actually has a bit of a grittiness about it in places, but this is by no means sustained. And no bloomin' pointless stand-in baddies to compensate the horribly done villain either...phew. The humor and puns present between Nick and Herb. are good too. Liked South by South? Read this book. Felt a little cheated by South by South? Put this book back on the shelf.
I Know What You Did Last Wednesday. (****[four stars]. Excellent). Now you're talking, Anthony! Recovered from the burn-out? Great! Let's see what you've got for us this time! This story is great. It's very tonally different to Horowitz' previous yarns in the franchise - (very dark and menacing in places actually) - but it's still a very good read. Considering it's such a short story, Horowitz doesn't half manage to cram some proper adventure into it. In fact, it's so original that it's in a total league of its own. There's some mystery, some horror, some adventure, some drama and some comedy, often in a surprisingly short space of time. And the mish-mash of genres isn't there because Anthony's having a stint here: it's actually used very effectively. Seriously, if you read this book and tell me that you find it boring, I'm willing to bet that A LOT of books bore you. The storyline of it is very much akin to a game of Cluedo come to life and hyped up a bit. There's never a dull moment. Nick and Herb.'s friendship is as endearing as ever as well. And, unlike South East and Confection, this novel features a baddie that actually HAS dimension! Seriously, upon reaching the scene where the baddie was revealled, I actually felt a tangibly solemn mood rising up in me. All that said, it's not perfect. The only gripe I do have is that it is a little too incongruous in places, as it features some murders which are a little far fetched. Anthony is back. If he writes another Diamond Brothers novel, let's hope it's back up there with the likes of Malteser and Public Enemy, eh? (And I'll even settle for one that's up to the standards of this one).
The Blurred Man. (**[two stars]. Just about readable). WHAT HAPPENED?! Anthony looked set to be producing tour de forces once again when he wrote, I Know What You Did, but now he's had another burn out. And this one's worse...much worse. Anthony, when you have a burn out, you wait for inspiration to strike again, not write another novel, on a whim, while you're still scratching your head. Where to begin? First off, it's pointless. Nothing new is brought to the table here. There's near enough no action, with any vaguely exciting sequences that are featured being either gratuitous or even downright ambiguos. Seriously, one of the so-called "action" sequences is so vague and sloppy that it feels as though your reading about a dream that a character in the novel is having, rather than about a scene that's actually affecting them, if that. The baddie in this is so rubbishly done and forgettable that I can't even remember whether the baddie is male or female, or whether there are in fact several baddies featured or just one. I can barely even remember which scene the baddie(s) was (or were) in. The only factor of this story that stops me from putting it down completely is Nick and Herb.'s relationship. That's still as good as ever. In short, if you go through your life without ever reading this book, you can feel safe in the knowledge that you won't have missed a thing.
The Greek Who Stole Christmas. (**[two stars]. Just about readable). I'm speechless. Ah...I'm speechless. This is the final Diamond Brothers novel. As a grand finale, it should be crammed with more action than you can shake a stick at; it should have a storyline that will have your brain smirking with stimulation; and above all it should tie up the loose ends of every previous novel in the franchise as cleanly as a great northern diver slips below the waves of the ocean. It does none of the above. It laughs in your face. The problem with the Diamond Brothers series is the way in which Anthony executed it. The stories - (even the best ones) - have no real continuity to them; they don't link in to the other ones, due to the lazy way in which Anthony wrote them. That's probably the main reason why The Greek Who Stole Christmas is bound to be a dangerous finale. But Anthony could at least TRY! Seriously, he goes about writing this book without any apparent care or passion. I get the feeling that when he writes this "conclusion" to the Diamond Brothers series, he's not making the slightest effort to wholeheartedly tie up the series. He's just sitting on his laurels, picking up a pen, mindlessly writing another story and calling it a conclusion. What can I say about this story? All the usual. No storyline, an appauling baddie (what was their name again?), and this time - (as hard as this is to believe) - NON-EXISTENT ACTION SCENES. Even Nick and Herb.'s relationship is starting to waver a bit, but I think that might be intentional. That said, more or less every other character in this story is impossible for me to recall - (apart from that guy who has a stammer, but I only remember him because I myself have a stammer, so that doesn't really count). In short, the Diamond Brothers series, it seems, has been integrally flawed from the outset. The lack of structure between each of the books has ensured that the series didn't end with a magnificent bang. It crashed and burned. Anthony didn't pull that final rabbit out of the hat; he threw the hat in the mud. He cast his pearls before swine in his complacency.
So, those are my assesments of each of the individual stories contained herein. The anthology averaged out with a *** [three-star] rating. This was almost exclusively down to the saving grace of I Know What You Did Last Wednesday, as well as that little bit of quality exibited by The French Confection. However, the other two stories are REALLY AWEFUL. I would recommend that you read I Know What You Did in any event, but I'll leave the rest up to you.
Reviewed by Arron S. Munro.