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Huck Flynn "huckleberry" (northern ireland)
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Sun And Shadow
Sun And Shadow
by Laurie Thompson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Snow and gloom, 24 Aug. 2009
This review is from: Sun And Shadow (Paperback)
The more i read of this book the more it annoyed me. The chapters are broken up into lots a short snippets separated by asterisks - otherwise you'd never know that the subject of the storyline had changed to a different character - the technique can work in a well written book but not here. This may in part be down to a dreadful translation - appallingly mystifying metaphors, stilted expressions and dialogue and poor grammar. I agree totally that the first quarter of the book in Spain is a complete waste of time - can someone explain its purpose (or deeper significance - is this the "Sun" part and if so how does it relate to the rest of the plot). There are enough irrelevant incidental scenes painting the Swedish milennium celebrations and routine police patrol work to frustrate the reader. Winter and some of his colleagues are quite interestingly characterised but the author never really makes them fully fleshed - possibly because for most of (the rest of) the book they are suspects but,as with most of the plot, details are obscured eg crime scenes and there is too much irrelevance - "death metal music", the caretaker's office, patrik and maria, "manhattan", the victims' relationship and most importantly the motivation and gruesome (but somwehat unlikely) methods of the killer. The author is trying to be subtle and clever in implying what happened during the murders but it is not well done and simply detracts from the horrific effect on the reader. The ending isn't really a resolution, the book just ends, any tension dissipating harmlessly. I'm not sure i care enough about Erik Winter or his pregnant girlfriend (or his extended family circle and their christmas) despite all the valuable pages Edwardson lavishes on their lives. Perhaps, just as important, we never get under the skin of the murderer, he's therefore not real and the thrill of "the chase" is spoiled. I hope the publishers haven't started scraping the bottom of the barrel of trendy baltic crime writing ! It will take a lot to convince me to read another of his books.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 9, 2014 8:38 PM BST


Good Summer Rain
Good Summer Rain
Price: £24.19

3.0 out of 5 stars 3 and a half - a touch bland by erica's standards, 13 Aug. 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Good Summer Rain (Audio CD)
i'm a big wheeler fan and it hurts me to give her less than 4 stars but this doesn't have the spark of Harvest (5 stars) or Three Wishes. erica seems to have mellowed (or fallen in love perhaps) but some of the themes and moods on the album are a bit sentimental. maybe it fits with the environmental, ecological, save the planet, heritage theme (and possibly sponsorship) that the material seems sincere and worthy but perhaps a bit lacking in humour, light and shade. certainly there are few really memorable tracks. That said there'a a lot of good music, poetic lyrics and a few new stylistic directions. Crow Flies, title track and Apache Hotel start the album off well enough - featuring some fair mandola/bouzouki accompaniment and dobro - they are catchy pleasant melodies. Then it gets bogged down in some slower, rather tuneless tracks that sound unfinished or like inferior versions of songs from previous albums. Wheeler's phrasing is quite distinctive - this is often a strength but there is a danger of these signatures becoming repetitive and over-used sometimes. Lucky in Love has a nice laid back, soul vibe and First Sunset is a touching ballad but the album finishes on a rather bland and downbeat note too reminiscent of the cd in general. The musicianship is sympathetic but not inspired, and the production tasteful at all times but rarely sparks the way that Laurie Lewis's arrangements energized "Harvest". It is Wheeler playing too safe or within a tight budget which is a pity. I hope she can still write more songs like Arrowheads, Spirit Lake, The Mystery or Sober Harley Guys. Come on Erica, getter angry, get bitter, don't mature so gracefully!


Rising Damp - Complete Collection [DVD]
Rising Damp - Complete Collection [DVD]
Dvd ~ Leonard Rossiter
Price: £9.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rossiter's Finest Hour(s), 12 Aug. 2009
One of the lowest rent sitcoms ever produced but it works so well because of the performance of Leonard Rossiter (RIP). The man was a comedy genius and Rising Damp's focal point - it is just impossible to take your eyes off him, the expressions and actions and lines so perfectly performed. He IS Rigsby, the scheming, sly, cheapskate landlord but so transparent and gullible that he can be a ludicrous fall guy and still retain our undying affection. His mostly unrequited courtship of Miss Jones (Frances De La Tour) is the central plot and it is the ridiculous lengths that our budding Rudolph Valentino goes to win her affection, the rivals he fights off (literally at times) while keeping tight control of his purse strings provides most of the comic momentum. Rigsby's prejudices also get a humorous airing in his confrontations with lodgers Don Warrington (black) and Richard Beckinsale (student) who constantly get the better of him but none can steal Rossiter's limelight. There were more lavish, dramatic and revolutionary comedy series but few as consistently funny or heartwarming. Rossiter would go on to at times equal this manic intensity with Reggie Perrin but never better this model character acting performance. Very few can match his charisma - perhaps Tony Hancock, Basil Fawlty, Richard Wilson's Foot in the Grave, Atkinson's Blackadder or The Office's David Brent. Amazing value for the 4 great TV series and an OK film spin off. The perfect cosy entertainment for those long damp winter nights.


Veedon Fleece
Veedon Fleece

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Master remastered, 11 Aug. 2009
This review is from: Veedon Fleece (Audio CD)
Pity that Van the Man seems to have disowned Veedon Fleece because to my mind it is even better than the seminal classic Astral Weeks. It's a loose relaxed and meditative album generally with piano, acoustic guitar and double bass driving the arrangements and Van's unique voice in its most soulful mood. Fair Play and You Don't Pull No Punches are rambling epics, in Streets of Arklow Van explores his irish "roots" with tin whistle accompanying acoustic guitar. The only up tempo R&B number is Bulbs, the rest of the album has a contemplative homogenous feel. Subtle woodwinds and violin replace brass as melodic accompaniment. Linden Arden is a stand out track - only Van could ever produce stuff like this and on Masked Man he produces an amazing falsetto vocal performance. Lyrics as unfathomable as ever. Van is one of the few artistes who can challenge Dylan with his body and quality of work (although he has also tailed off markedly in the last 20 years) - he has been hugely influential to so many others. It has less obvious "hits" than some of his other albums but deserves and repays many a careful listen. Note: I believe the cover photo was taken in the grounds of the Culloden Hotel (between Holywood and Bangor). Don't know the names of the Irish wolfhounds :-)


How to Do and Say in England: A Trim Kompaktikum for Students of Englisch Talk and Society Behaviourism (Prion Humour Classics)
How to Do and Say in England: A Trim Kompaktikum for Students of Englisch Talk and Society Behaviourism (Prion Humour Classics)
by Anthony Robertson
Edition: Hardcover

3.0 out of 5 stars Mildly amusing in small dosings, 11 Aug. 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The kompaktikum is a spoof social primer, presumably for German visitors wishing to learn English social ettiquette and often includes clever word play, punnery and amusing mis-spelling. The reader is taken through all of the traditional pastimes and social occasions and given advice or apt sample phrases and conversations e.g. "Horsemanliness - Horse knowledgeabiliti (and lov) is scarceli not less than compulsory in englisch society so it is safe always to stress your horsemanliness and to vociferate how much you approve of the good beasts. Be warned that it may also be necessary actually to take a seat on one and stay there while it goes from one place to another" (sic). Perhaps not fair to take snippets out of context but this would be a fairly typical quote and the book more often raises a smile than a chortle or guffaw. There are some subtly satirical comparisons between the German and British national character - made more interesting by being written in the run up to WWII. It is a slim volume and that is probably for the best - read it in small chunks as it gets a little repetitive and cloying after a while. Quite a good, if dated, read but the Two Ronnies could have done it better in a single sketch.


The Twelve
The Twelve
by Stuart Neville
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Fistful of Cliches, 11 Aug. 2009
This review is from: The Twelve (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
As someone who lived through "The Troubles" (although thankfully unscarred) the background and setting for The Twelve is certainly familiar and feels authentic enough. It's a gripping and fast paced thriller full of memorable caricatures - some amusingly familiar. Gerry Fegan, the guilt ridden IRA killer in search of revenge/redemption for the twelve victims who died at his hands on the orders of evil men who have profited from the conflict. The reader has sympathy for Fegan for several reasons - he seems genuinely remorseful; he is portrayed quite well as a victim of his own background; and he never tries to justify his actions. Other characters are less sympathetically painted - McKenna, McGinty, Toner, Coulter, O'Kane, Hargreaves, Pilkington but it is their one dimensional portrayal that is a weakness in the book. Neville's North is unremittingly cynical - dirty politics, collusion, betrayal, godlessness and corruption. There is no room for idealism, every motive is twisted and venal - a common cynical point of view these days but perhaps a bit convenient (or am i being naive?) in maintaining a suspenseful, unsettling and frankly depressing atmosphere. Campbell, the mole/double agent is slightly more complex (or confused) but he is included as a cipher and not fully drawn. In the end the book reminds me very much of a Clint Eastwood movie as Fegan exacts his bloody revenge on a queue of unsavoury characters - partly justified by protecting (the symbolic) mother and daughter Marie and Ellen. Marie McKenna provides a brief opportunity for some love interest but I don't think the reader ever really gets close enough to care what happens to her. That said it's a rollercoaster read via riots, bombs, sectarian murders, illegal dog fights, The Maze prison, diesel "laundering" plants, cemetery speeches, racketeering, Ulster politics and some nice scenery, to a convenient and melodramatic ending. I smell a TV/film spin off with James Nesbitt. 3 and a half stars for the writing and an extra half star for the setting, but then I'm bigoted!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 3, 2010 5:57 PM BST


Wash This Blood Clean From My Hand (Commissaire Adamsberg)
Wash This Blood Clean From My Hand (Commissaire Adamsberg)
by Fred Vargas
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Larger than life but fascinating, 6 Aug. 2009
I'd warn those new to Vargas not to expect totally believeable plots or painstaking proceduralism. Her detective Adamsberg is charismatic and wondrous strange - Maigret on a Sherlock Holmesian trip. In Wash This Blood the Parisian detective is chasing a ghost murderer from his past - the shadowy Judge whom he suspects of rising from the grave to continue his serial killing career with a 3 pronged garden fork (i kid you not). Adamsberg then ends up making enemies of the Canadian Mounties (yes, honestly) in a series of bizarre twists. It's wonderful! Why? Well because the plot is fiendishly macabre, amusing, complex, melodramatic and gripping. Adamsberg and colleagues (particularly Dangler and Retancourt) are eccentric and interesting, the dialogue witty. Ok there are faults but the charm of the story outweighs those if you are prepared to suspend your disbelief and treat it as an entertainment. It's intelligent escapism. Stay away if you want gritty realism.


One Under (Di Joe Faraday)
One Under (Di Joe Faraday)
by Graham Hurley
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Good but perhaps a bit over ambitious, 6 Aug. 2009
My first Hurley and i was impressed by his meticulous procedural approach. That's perhaps a strength and a weakness - the double plot in One Under got a bit confusing at times - the gruesome death of a man chained to a railway line and a missing person who may be the victim. The two investigations necessarily intertwined initially but later the two strands didn't unravel as easily as perhaps they should. Faraday and Winter are both likeable characters with individual traits, foils to each other's style, and the social and political and geographical (Portsmouth) backdrop is realistically portrayed. I was never wholly convinced by the tunnel victim - a complex personality - or Jake Tarrant but the plot held my attention until the point where i more or less guessed the ending. However, I look forward to more Hurleys in very near future.


A Passion Play
A Passion Play
Price: £4.66

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Critics hang your head in shame (UPDATED), 5 Aug. 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: A Passion Play (Audio CD)
Although i gave this 5 stars previously, this mix by Steven Wilson improves it again, revealing some exquisite touches never heard before and restoring almost a minute previously "lost" - i thought my mind was going at first. PP is the kind of music not heard before or since and Tull went downhill afterwards IMO. I have listened to disk 1 extensively - i'll get round to the other 3 at some stage - i already have the Chateau tapes on CD. Great booklet. Magic music.
[Original review]Previous reviewers have renewed my faith in the music listening public. I got this on its original release (1973?) and it was almost universally slated by critics - curiously the same critics who had praised (and rightly so) the previous album Thick as a Brick. Well PP is really TaaB II - the same extended musical brilliance with some subtle differences ( including Anderson's new mastery of soprano sax as already pointed out). Complaints that Tull had stopped writing songs or had somehow betrayed their rock and blues roots were ridiculous - Tull were simply moving on, progressing if you will. PP is fundamentally approximately 10 pieces of music joined together in clever and creative ways to form a superb thematic whole. It may not suit those with a short attention span or electric guitar junkies clammering for extended wailing lead solos but at least they can go back to Stand Up, Benefit or Aqualung for that. For the rest of us who were willing to suspend judgement and give it a listen, what a thoroughly rewarding experience over the years, and, as others have said, it is still fresh. The playing is masterful - as well as Anderson's wonderful acoustic work, breathy flute and honeyed warble, the sax is an expressive melodic weapon, in Anderon's hands more baroque than jazz. John Evan's keyboards are inspired, sublime and entertaining, Barre's guitar is subtle and intricate and the rhythm section of Barlow and Hammond take the composition through a bewildering and impressive number of time signatures. It's an inspired piece and the 45 minutes flies past showing that Tull can do what Yes were so good at with Close to the Edge but without the ridiculously pretentious lyrics, although Ian Anderson's sometimes are a bit silly in a schoolboy humorous way. I must disagree with some previous reviewers - after two listens i never wanted to hear the mildly amusing interlude "Hare Who Lost His Specs" ever again. Thankfully with modern technology you can program this out. Passion Play is wonderful rock theatre; may the curtains go up on it many times.


Bandstand
Bandstand
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: £9.49

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Family at the top of their creative hill, 30 July 2009
This review is from: Bandstand (Audio CD)
Every time they re-release this wonderful album i feel obliged to review it again - this time i've just copied the previous review (see below). It's a classic and should be in everybody's rock collection.
--- original review ----
The incomparable Family were always one of the most inventive and exciting live bands of the 70's with the individual singing style of Roger Chapman, versatile guitarist Charlie Whitney and a great supporting cast. Their influences ranged from rockabilly to jazz and although they had a strong and loyal cult following they were always too eclectic to really make it big internationally. "Bandstand" represents Chapman & Co at the pinnacle of their achievement with commercially successful singles "Burlesque" and "My Friend the Sun" still wonderfully fresh. But every song is great, the wistful nostalgia of "Coronation", the tenderness of "Dark Eyes" to the rougher "Glove" and "Broken Nose" - typical Chapman macho love songs, the distinctive RnB guitar driven style of "Ready To Go" and more subtle keyboards of Poli Palmer on "Top of the Hill". Classic stuff from one of the greatest British bands of all time. Prepare to be amazed. Their previous album "Fearless" is also superb.
------
In addition i should say that Family took a pride in their CD cover designs and it is a nice touch that Bandstand and Fearless are released with limited replica copies of the original "concepts". Worth having if only for sentimental reasons. The extra tracks - mmm - it's debatable if we old fogey fans really want this unfamiliar, and often substandard, material tacked on to the end of our treasured memories. Bandstand was one of those albums that was just perfect as it was.


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