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The Doll Princess (Bane 1) Hardcover – 5 Jan 2012
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"Tom Benn is set to be one of the distinctive crime writers of his generation. In Henry Bane he has created a sharp, sarcastic anti-hero with his own warped sense of honour and a narrative that is truly distinctive."--Shots Crime & Thriller e-zine
“A graduate of the UEA creative writing course, Benn is a sharply observant writer with a great eye for detail, but what really makes this book a cut above the average gangland thriller is the character of Bane himself.”--Laura Wilson, The Guardian
"a promising, foul-mouthed debut in which gangsters and good guys fight for supremacy in a Manchester that resembles a war zone.”--Julia Handford, The Sunday Telegraph
“[a] madly bloody but sometimes brilliant book”--Rebecca Armstrong, The Independent
“Tom Benn, Stockport born and bred, is that rare thing. A startlingly new, ridiculously stylish, home-grown voice. Despite more than a casual nod to a rain-sodden Hulme dialect, Benn’s debut is so full of energy and sharp one-liners, it will travel far and wide.”--Henry Sutton, Daily Mirror Book of the Week
The arrival of an assured and exhilarating new voice in literary crime fiction. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product description
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I bought the book on the recommendation of my daughter who was on the same course as Tom as she said it was definitely the sort of book I would enjoy. She was correct. It was brilliant. So good I had to read it in one sitting - there was no putting this one down. Tom wirtes in short bursts; sentences so punchy it amazing you don't feel bruised at the end of the paragraphs. One such really brought home to me his skill. The protagonists are driving into the country (somewhat foreign to them you feel) and Tom describes it like this:
Barely fields on the left of the A road. Scraps of forest to the right. Badger roadkill ahead.
Needs nothing more really. Brilliant.
In Henry Bane, Tom has created an anti-hero but one you really want to survive. He's not really a very 'good' person but he looks out for 'our Gordon' and wants to get to the bottom of a mystery concerning an ex-girlfriend. To this end, he takes leave of absence from his employer - a fabulous character and an Elvis impersonator, and chases clues across the Manchester landscape while drinking copies mugs of 'brew'. I can't wait to see where Tom takes this cast but I hope we will see Bane again sometime very soon.
I'd like to thank as well as congratulate the author on an amazing job - book 1 was rewarding on its own, but I can't wait for the second.
I wasn't sure at first about the Manchester 'language',but at the end it is crucial to the story and would not work half as well had it been in ordinary English so well done to Tom Bell on this.
I also liked the fact that there is no hero as such - why should there be?
The main character Bane comes across as deeply flawed as the villains.
I have given this novel four stars - a five star is for a book i couldn't put down and wanted to read all through the night.But this novel is almost there.
Richard Downing (author of The Devil's Tattoo and Gaijin House)
The story is told through the eyes of Henry Bane, which Benn brings to life via an excellent and stylish first-person narrative. Don't expect any excessive, long-winded flowery descriptions in this book. Bane's narration is concise and realistic, giving some excellent one-liners during this story.
This book was an exciting, engaging experience. Benn is a very passionate author who has made the characters in the book its strongest attribute; Henry Bane being my personal favourite. Any young writer should enjoy Benn's style and originality.
The book blurb mentions the author has been through a creative writing course and the story feels like it's been cobbled together by someone 'borrowing' elements from other works that he's put a lot of time into studying. Get Carter seems to have featured highly in setting up this story although unlike Carter, Henry Bane has little plausible motivation to get into the plot of Doll Princess. The dialogue has a whiff of a Mancunian Irvine Welsh, tho with so much filler chat, it tends to drag while the short sentences structure is very Ellroy, and commonly replicated these days.
Even Bane's name currently registers more for Tom Hardy's performance in Dark Knight Rises, a film which was released a few months before this book was published . . . perhaps cynical from me (although I see the second Bane book features a komodo dragon, recently featured in Skyfall).
The setting of 1996 is completely arbitrary, and made an even odder selection given the author was born in 1987. The constant references to the IRA bomb are pretty much the only sense of the era, bar the cop out tactic of constantly naming 'of the time' tunes playing in every club or flat Bane walks into. The mentions of Bane's Harrington jacket are in fact the only description we have on the character, bar a height reference against his pal Gordon. It's an odd choice to create such a blank character to lead a crime book, and as such the story never feels particularly thrilling.
Add in Bane's ability to constantly fall into plot progressions (ie he is detained by a government agency but, to aid the story, beats up the guy holding him hostage - in the back of a van - and is then treated to a torrent of exposition on the story) rather than make them and a predictable late twist to make the whole thing go 'a bit Chinatown' and the Doll Princess registers only as an over stylised and smug entry into the crime genre.
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