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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A complete change of genre and a real return to form
It's been a while since I've read anything by Tony Parsons. Loved Man and Boy And One for my Baby but then found the subsequent books became repetitive,cloying and just versions of the same story even if there was always that smart turn of phrase or cultural reference that Parsons does better than most - not too surprising for a guy who was at the hippest end of the NME...
Published 10 months ago by tpryan

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Vaguely interesting plot, mediocre characters and genuinely dreadful writing.
The plot is (quite) interesting. It's set up with that genre staple of the 'prologue in which a crime occurs but no characters are named to allow for mystery later', but although cliched this does create some intrigue and a desire to find out what is going on. Arguably the prologue gives a little too much away since it makes the killer's motive blindingly obvious to the...
Published 1 month ago by Jake


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Vaguely interesting plot, mediocre characters and genuinely dreadful writing., 17 April 2015
This review is from: The Murder Bag (Paperback)
The plot is (quite) interesting. It's set up with that genre staple of the 'prologue in which a crime occurs but no characters are named to allow for mystery later', but although cliched this does create some intrigue and a desire to find out what is going on. Arguably the prologue gives a little too much away since it makes the killer's motive blindingly obvious to the reader (but not the characters, of course) and it also makes the small plot twist at the end incredibly predictable, but again only to the reader who has information that Max Wolfe does not. Things sag a bit in the first third with an unecessarily protracted hunt for a knife which seems little more than an excuse for the author to reveal that he has once visited the Black Museum, but there's certainly no shortage of action if you're prepared to switch your brain off a bit and if (like the author, I suspect) you have no real experience of how murder investigations work.
This lack believability is a serious problem to be honest. Whether it's the anti-terrorist operation that hinges on a choice between 'shoot him in the head with a sniper' or 'let him go', the PC with six years on the job who doesn't understand the rank of a Detective Constable, the head of a murder investigation who goes on a jolly to the black museum because that is apparently the best way to work out what kind of a weapon caused certain injuries, or any of a number of other inaccuracies; they jar and detract from the plot and the credibility of the author.

The nature of the plot allows for a rich cast of characters, and some of the gang of victims have the potential to be relatively interesting. However, each is treated with so little depth before their inevitable demise that we don't get much sense of what they are like or what might have caused each of them to take such diverse routes through life. Wolfe himself is given another genre-staple back-story, with a daughter and a dog who appear in lengthy passages that slow down the plot without adding nearly as much depth to the character as the author probably thinks.

The writing is the worst part of the book, which is a little unexpected from an apparently established author. I lost count of the moments where character A explains in laborious detail to character B some point which character B either should, or indeed does already know. Any good author knows that if a passage of dialogue starts with 'as you know', you need to seriously question whether it should be included, yet I lost count of the appearances of this phrase in the book. Part of the trouble is that the author is clearly a bit too impressed with what he does know about the police, and is therefore desperate for his characters to explain points such as that a Detective Constable does not outrank a Police Constable or that fingerprints sometimes go through gloves. While that may be fascinating to the author, and even moderately interesting to particularly ill-informed readers, it's utterly bizzare being mansplained through the voice of one of his characters.

Overall, a disappointing and irritating book, and not one which will encourage me to read any others in the series.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A complete change of genre and a real return to form, 21 July 2014
This review is from: The Murder Bag (Hardcover)
It's been a while since I've read anything by Tony Parsons. Loved Man and Boy And One for my Baby but then found the subsequent books became repetitive,cloying and just versions of the same story even if there was always that smart turn of phrase or cultural reference that Parsons does better than most - not too surprising for a guy who was at the hippest end of the NME school of journalism.

This is completely different. It's a shift to crime genre and Parsons does this well. For a first foray into the genre he brings something genuinely new. There are references to police work, procedures and premises that are different to other books. And the lead character is of course a flawed copper. But again Parsons does this a bit differently by casting Max as a male single parent.

This all adds to the book and there are quite a few twists along the way. You kind of work out where it's going but it's still entertaining and gripping enough. The final twist is a master stroke. I did find the cover of the book a bit less than its' contents: the strap line 'do some people deserve to die' is neither particularly compelling nor a theme - thankfully - that's much pursued in the book. And 'cutting the throats of the rich and powerful' is misleading too: these aren't random killings and the second victim is living on the streets. Another example of the story being rather better than the blurb.

The last page tells us Max will be back in 2015. That's good news as this has the makings of a genuinely different addition to the London crime scene genre.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Meh., 29 May 2014
By 
Patricia Hill "triciahill" (Hanwell, London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: The Murder Bag (Kindle Edition)
I finished it, but only just. And the much-touted twist at the end? What was the point? Is Max going to do anything about it?

The body count is high, but several of the deaths are fairly pointless (especially the guy who commits suicide. Twice.) The major motivating factor behind the murders is, by this point, a total cliche.

The bait and switch with the wife irritated me and, again, what was the point? Was it an attempt to make Max more interesting? Max attends several funerals, which are an excellent excuse for larding the book with vast chunks of prose from rather better writers. And the Peggy Sue wish fulfilment with the character Max ends up with? Ugh.

In the end, I didn't care about any of the characters and the plot wasn't interesting enough to make up for that.

But the most irritating factor was Max's car - he has a BMW X5, you know. Well, if you didn't after the first time it's mentioned, you soon will. "I lowered the window of the X5", "My X5 was parked further down the street", "I picked up the keys for my X5", and so on and on and on. By the end, I was convinced that BMW were sponsoring the book. Was it really not possible just to say, "I got into my car"? Just once? Please?
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Managed to get through most of it befor I gave it up as a bad job. Poorly written unbelievable characters and a story ..., 26 Jun. 2014
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This review is from: The Murder Bag (Kindle Edition)
I bought the book because it was written by Tony Parsons and wish I had not . Managed to get through most of it befor I gave it up as a bad job . Poorly written unbelievable characters and a story line that was totally daft .what happened Tony ?
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Gave up, 10 Jun. 2014
This review is from: The Murder Bag (Hardcover)
Tony Parsons can be a very effective writer, but not here.

Clearly Parsons has decided to get in on the police franchise act, stepping onto the kind of territory in which we might find Mo Hayder or Peter James.

The trouble is, in doing so, Parsons leaves no cliche unturned: troubled cop with authority issues, check; tabloid journalist who is willing to be used as human bait, check; loner pretending to be a serial killer and the police falling for it, check and so on.

Also, Parsons does like to over tell the reader various facts. Our hero drives a BMW X5 and we are reminded of this every time he parks his car, for example. His description of the Palace of Westminster is like something out of a primary school textbook.

The Murder Bag will probably be a bestseller. It doesn't deserve to be.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Glad to finish it., 17 July 2014
By 
Lily (Sheffield UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Murder Bag (Hardcover)
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This could have been such a good book - the story itself is a good one. I was put off by the fact that it was obviously written by a middle class writer. Overall it came across as a tacky American detective story. The name 'Max Wolf' says it all! He was sensitive but tough. Why does the writer need to dress this up in such a cliched way?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Yawn., 26 July 2014
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This review is from: The Murder Bag (Kindle Edition)
An unoriginal plodding yarn. We've heard it all before- cop with a broken marriage caring for his adorable little girl tackles a by the numbers murder series. This is such a shallow and cheap read - I was hoping for better from an ex anti establishment music journo. He is the antithesis of his ex partner Burchill who writes with such scathing venom and if only he had used this approach to this genre instead of this maudlin fawning yawning plot. Without a doubt a missed opportunity.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Two dimensional amazingly sexy love interest? check, 27 Mar. 2015
By 
This review is from: The Murder Bag (Paperback)
Should win an award for cramming the most thriller genre cliches into a few hundred pages. Emotionally tortured main protagonist? check. Suitably tough name? Detective Max Wolfe, check. Two dimensional amazingly sexy love interest? check.
I have enjoyed reading this author before, including his magazine columns, however this is such a blatant and transparent cash cow. Expect a book a year following this predictable character.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Had promise but become to try hard., 23 Jun. 2014
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This review is from: The Murder Bag (Hardcover)
I love Tony Parsons and because of that I persevered with the book. I know it's his first novel in a new genre however I felt as though he tried to cram too many twists into the story. It's difficult to like the main character and some of his actions do not fit with the story or that of a policeman in some ways. We also are not given a description of him which I found really difficult. All you find out is he is 6'. Difficult to explain without spoiling the storyline for people. Also felt as though the technical detail he used in the book was given in almost a patronising manner and didn't always help the flow of the book.

For die hard fans like myself it's difficult to write anything but glowing reviews for Tony and switching genres is no easy task I imagine. Undecided if I will read the next one.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A little too calculated, 29 May 2014
By 
Ken Barnes (Benfleet, Essex. U.K.) - See all my reviews
No one would argue that Tony Parsons is an accomplished writer. His best-selling novel "Man and Boy" is a delightful read. "The Murder Bag" is his first foray into crime fiction, an attempt to create a character that will result in a best-selling franchise. Unfortunately, the whole thing seems a little too calculated. Apart from a truly riveting opening, this effort never quite catches fire. Mr. Parsons reveals himself to be a talented dilettante rather than a natural crime writer.
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The Murder Bag
The Murder Bag by Tony Parsons
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