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The Kills
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on 5 July 2014
this is essentially three novels with the quest to find out who the victim is and who the ultimate perpetrator is of a murder - the hyper links to mini-videos and sound tracks is ingenious and definitely part of the allure despite its being cumbersome to use (I kept losing my place on the kindle i read it on, or when i read it on my iPad, i had to keep finding my place again and again - never mind) - the opening novella was utterly engrossing partially because i was getting used to the gimmick of the multi media; the lengthy middle section among soldiers is complex, gritty and moving, just too long - and the only women are the wives left at home reflected in their husband's recounting of events. i only got part way into the third section - it is sort of way too long - but very competent and adept writing, vignettes and characters- and sometimes i am only too aware that there's contrivance and extra features involved...
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on 24 March 2014
OK this is a killer of a book or books I should say. It is one of those massive works that requires a lot of effort and goodwill and understanding. I started off enthusiastically but have to say that by the end I was flagging. If you are a reader you will enjoy most of it. But it's a tough read. Worthwhile at times but some passages can confuse and annoy the reader. So much going on that you are can get quite lost. Probably make a tremendous art film. Give it a go but prepared to be frustrated.
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on 5 September 2014
An engrossing book written from multiple points of view but very frustrating as there is no answer to the central mystery. Or perhaps I missed it?
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on 15 December 2015
curate's egg
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on 29 March 2016
A hard slog of a book. Gripping, harrowing and strange.
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on 8 September 2013
Having just finished my summer's read in September, I can attest to the length of the book. As four novels in one, it certainly has the space to consider many characters, situations, ideas and stories. But while the first two books work very well, the last two seem contrived and a bit rushed, almost like the author lost interest in the book as well. I really enjoyed the verisimilitude of the Iraq stories; both had a strong sense of place and time, clearly in the 'now' and almost up to the minute with Syria references. The characters, the intrigue, the doubt and the settings all worked well. The third and fourth books lacked this coherence and while they had some interesting elements, the plots struggled for direction and the characters came and went too quickly to engage the reader. 'Because there has to be an end,' I finished the last book, but was left unsatisfied by how it was wrapped up. I had not expected a tidy Dan Browneseque conclusion, but so many characters simply walk off stage with no follow-up (e.g. Geezler). Partly the point, I realise, but excessively so in this case. Usually, the 'less is more' rule applies and certainly here, a great 500 page novel is buried in the sands of a 1,000 page saga. Still, the first two books are definitely worth a read.
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on 22 October 2013
I found this a very well written, intriguing novel.Consequently, it's length was not really a problem, apart from a slight sag in the middle section. The characters were interesting, and the issue of exploiting unskilled labour in places like Iraq has had a recent echo in the controversy about the World Cup labourers in Quatar. One can easily see why the novel was long listed for the Booker.I would definitely recommend it.
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on 3 October 2013
This is complex, convoluted, disjointed, interrelated, confusing, but ultimately quite amazing. The video and audio clips add a new dimension. I cannot imagine being confronted with this to read as part of the Booker short listing process. It has taken me ages to read.
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on 20 August 2015
Of the four shorter books that comprise this massive tome, I have read the first only.
I shall not read any more.
Detail, detail, detail. Well written and convincing detail, BUT NOT WHAT I WANT WHEN I AM READING WHAT IS, AFTER ALL, 'ONLY' A THRILLER.
What the author achieves in two hundred and fifty pages, John Buchan could have done in twenty.
Spare me from writers who think that more is better.
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on 26 September 2014
Too long, too complex. Neither of those things are bad, but this just did not really hang together. Not really worth the slog to get through all the chapters.
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