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A Serpent Uncoiled Paperback – 19 Jan 2012

4.2 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Headline; Reprint edition (19 Jan. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0755335937
  • ISBN-13: 978-0755335930
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 3.2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,091,164 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

'Off-the-wall . . . Gargantuan literary flourishes makes Spurrier's style dirtier, rougher and infinitely more fascinating' ( The Truth About Books )

Book Description

A crime novel with a twist, A Serpent Uncoiled is a wry, witty and utterly unique take on the classic private eye novel

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
A Serpent Uncoiled was my first encounter with author Simon Spurrier, but it's one I'll never forget. The book is Spurrier's second crime book after Contract published in 2007. In addition, Spurrier has written several licensed novels and writes as a graphic novelist for likes of Marvel, D.C. and 2000AD. And this last is apparent in his writing I think, because besides being wicked, witty, scary and mysterious, A Serpent Uncoiled is written in a very visual style. The story is almost filmic and it's very easy to picture what the places Dan visits look like or how he sees during his drug-induced hallucinatory episodes.

The book oozes plot, because Shaper's case is labyrinthine. Moving from what seems to be nothing more than a threatening hoax letter to the most frightening murder plot Shaper has ever encounter, the story keeps the reader on her toes. Every time I thought this time Shaper (and I) had figured out the real culprit, we'd turn another twisting corner and it would turn out I was wrong. But despite the numerous twists and turns and dead ends in the case, the plot never became too clever for its own good, rather Shaper's conclusions were logical based on the hard evidence and often backed up by his instincts, even taking into account that Shaper isn't always the most reliable of observers.

Shaper's world is weird and delusional, due to his emotional trauma and his resultant drug abuse. Shaper intuits his way through the case based on hunches derived from his drug-induced fata morganas. For someone completely sceptical of the New Age bollocks, as he calls them, Shaper gets pretty close to having visions himself, a fact which unsettles him mightily when he acknowledges it.
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Format: Paperback
Every occult detective has his or her point of differentiation. Race. Gender. Exorcist. Demon. Slayer. Vampire. Teenager. Ageless. Sex addict. Zombie. Immortal. The list goes on and on - somewhere in the human subsconscious there's a dartboard of adjectives and, if and when this trend limps into retirement, it will be well-perforated.

However long the list may stretch, it may never turn out a character as far out on the edge as Simon Spurrier's Dan Shaper.

Shaper, the protagonist of A Serpent Uncoiled (2011), is a "fixer". The sort of jack of all trades, no-problem-too-hard-ass problem-solver that's familiar to readers of F. Paul Wilson's Repairman Jack or Lee Child's Jack Reacher. Shaper was once connected to one of London's dominant crime families, but, as of the start of the book, is eking out a sorry career as a freelancer - catching petty thieves in brothels. He's not a "bad guy", but he is a grimly amoral realist that's seen enough of the world to understand how things really work. Not quite an outsider, as his profession insists that he maintain his connections in the system.

Still, Shaper's liminal (and criminal) status isn't purely about his job.

Due to the copious amount of drugs he consumes, Dan's only fully plugged in to reality about half the time. He takes uppers until he's twitchy, then downers to keep him from flipping out. His entire daily routine is based on careful - and continuous - medication with fistfuls of multi-coloured pills. Shaper's main concern is that he may become resistant to his drugs. As a result, after he finishes a job, he locks himself up in his grim little flat (with his pet iguana) and painfully, resolutely, filthily detoxes. It ain't pretty, but it keeps him alive and his drugs effective.
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Format: Paperback
What an amazing writer this guy is. The prose soars and dives like manic poetry. Its almost too extravagant at times and certainly the sheer quantity of it threatens to overwhelm. But this is dangerous stuff from an author who may go on to create his own genre.

There are some flaws. As others have said Simon Spurrier has created an amazing caste of characters, most of them grotesques, and handles them like a puppet-master. But he doesn't quite make us care enough about those characters, they just remain odd-balls, and so the relationships don't quite have the depth they need. The author can write it so that we can see it but we don't really feel it.

But never mind, even as it stands this book could become a classic and if Mr Spurrier ever manages to dilute just a little of his comic-book origins and add in just a little more literary depth we would have a very special writer indeed.
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Format: Paperback
If you love crime with an Urban Fantasy twist, a flawed lead character and a twisted plotline that will keep you guessing then you've come to the right author. With Felix "Fix" Castor on sabbatical, readers have been seeking a gumshoe for that London fix who isn't afraid to step into the area's too dark for mere mortals, who isn't afraid to do what's right and whilst he hasn't always been the right side of the law, his hearts in the right place.

Add to this a cracking back up cast, some great prose and dialogue that will demonstrate Simon's sense of humour as well as giving a wonderful sidelong glance to a London that the Government wants hidden for the 2012 Olympics and it's a wonderful homage to the underbelly that many believe has long gone. (Just don't mention the Krays.)
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