Thursday, October 08, 2009

2009 books, #55-#62

Roadside crosses, by Jeffery Deaver. London: Hodder, 2009.

Deaver just seems to get better. This one's a Kathryn Dance novel; and he neatly avoids all the patterns he's adopted in the past. There's a character you feel certain is earmarked to be the twist in the tail but isn't; and one you feel is probably benign, and also isn't... just as you think you've worked out how he's going to trick you, he turns through 90 degrees and does something completely different...

Our fathers' lies, by Andrew Taylor. London: Hodder, 2007.

William Dougal isn't my favourite of Andrew Taylor's recurring characters, but this one is very good, and a nice quick read; a suspected suicide turns into something much more complicated involving old family history and the intelligence network; gripping from start to finish.

Serpent's tooth, by Faye Kellerman. London: Headline, 1998.

Another of the Peter Dekker books - lots of twists and turns; occasionally the plot gets almost too convoluted for its own good, but some of the characters are very interesting and it does start with the most dramatic scene... and it's interesting to see the sons turning into young men rather than still being children.

The devil in amber, by Mark Gatiss. London: Simon and Schuster, 2006.

This turned up in the 'to catalogue' pile at the library; so I catalogued it and brought it home. I have a soft spot for strange, slightly fascistic, 1930s action/spy novels of the type written by Dornford Yates, and this is a wonderful (and affectionate) parody of these written by League of Gentlemen writer/performer Mark Gatiss who was also responsible for the wonderful Nebulous on the radio. Wonderfully written, with the eye for the violently grotesque you'd expect from Gatiss, and some fantastically punny names. I need to get hold of the first book in the series, The Vesuvius Club, and see if there have been any others since...

The blue religion: new stories about cops, criminals and the chase, edited by Michael Connolly for Mystery Writers of America. London: Quercus, 2008.

This is an extremely good anthology of short stories. The main trail on the cover is for an original Harry Bosch story, but there are better ones in here; John Harvey's bleak story stands out against the more glamorous American offerings; John O. Born is a name I need to follow up; Laurie R. King shines as usual; Paul Guyot's story is extremely moving and Peter Robinson's is beautifully crafted. One small whinge though - all the stories are in US English spelling regardless of provenance; reading "gray" and "center" in Harvey's and Robinson's Northern English dialogue is annoying and clumsy - and increasingly frequent, recently...

The storm: the world economic crisis and what it means, by Vince Cable. London: Atlantic, 2009.

Absolutely does what it says on the tin. A sane, clear explanation of what's been going on over the last couple of years, which explains economic concepts in ordinary language. Obviously there's a political bias here, but it's relatively slight and, where it becomes party-political, it's signalled; Cable assumes you're an intelligent person with an interest in, but no great expertise in, economic theory and history - it's never patronising or over-theoretical. At 150 pages, it's a very good guide to what happened (it was published in January or so), and gives predictions (many of them since fulfilled) for the future. I'm not surprised the queue for this at the library was extremely long.

Even money, by Dick Francis and Felix Francis. London: Michael Joseph, 2009.

Superb; Dick Francis at his best. I don't care who was behind this one; its's the standard blend of information (in this case, how on-course betting works), family (wow) and plot (pretty good...)

Definitely well up to the old standards of the early novels on the plot stakes, and well above it on the emotional ones...

206 bones, by Kathy Reichs. London: Heinemann, 2009.

I enjoyed this one - I always read the Kathy Reichs books when they come out, but the earlier ones set in Montréal are definitely my favourite, and the more Andrew Ryan content, the better. This one is almost entirely Montréal-based, and having visited the city last year I had slightly more idea of where things were and how the geography fits together (I'll have to go back and re-read the first couple...). I always fear that Tempe will go the way of Cornwell's Kay Scarpetta into self-absorption but there's no evidence of it in this particular book ... My only real criticism of it is that the framing device (and if you've seen the posters, you'll have read some of it) with attendant flashbacks isn't done strongly enough - you get a couple of pages of "present day" followed by 100 pages of "recent past" and it's not enough to be intruiguing, merely enough to be a bit irritating. As a study of how things can go very wrong in a workplace alarmingly quickly, it's excellent.

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