Saturday, January 15, 2011

2011 books, #1-5

First thrills, edited by Lee Child. Corvus: 2010. Kindle edition.

This is an excellent collection, with only one slightly duff story in it. There are stories by well-known authors like Child, Jeffery Deaver, Alex Kava, CJ Lyons, Heather Graham and so on, and also (the point of the collection) stories by unpublished or just-published authors, which are equally strong. There are a mix of seriously creepy stories, one zombie tale, a couple which cross over into science fiction or fantasy and several with wicked twists in the tail. Highly recommended and a great first read for this year.

Cambridge blue, by Alison Bruce. Robinson, 2010. Kindle edition.

A new-to-me author; downloaded this, like the last one and the next one, as part of Amazon's £1 Kindle promotion over Christmas. The thing which always worries me slightly about books set in locations I know well is whether they twist the geography, but this is perfect; when the main character, a young policeman called Gary Goodhew, walks the streets of Cambridge, you know exactly where he is at any time. This covers a series of murders over many years, and the characters are largely believable. The one weakness may be Goodhew himself, though - he does go off being a complete maverick, in the Morse mode; but it doesn't seem realistic that he's able to do this as a DC, given the number of warnings from his boss he ignores along the way.

1222, by Anne Holt. Corvus, 2010. Kindle edition.

This is an amazing 'locked-in' type of thriller - the express from Oslo to Bergen crashes on a mountainside near a large tourist hotel in the middle of a snowstorm (at an altitude of 1222 metres) and the passengers are taken in. The weather gradually worsens and nobody can leave. Then the first murder is discovered... The only police seem to be guarding a mysterious personage on the top floor, and the only investigator present, Hanne Wilhelmsen, is a retired police officer who is paraplegic as a result of a shooting years before. At one stage, the author invokes And then there were none, but this is just so much better than that. I think it would make a fantastic disaster movie as the circle of suspects narrows and the weather becomes a main character in the drama. I'll be looking for more in this series.

Strange affair, by Peter Robinson [audiobook]. Narrated by Ron Keith. Rearsby, Leics: Clipper, 2005.

An Inspector Banks novel and not one of his best. It chugs along OK, and Banks is always an interesting character, but I had the feeling that it could have been about three-quarters the length without losing much of the plot or characterisation. The reading wasn't great either; the Banks books are usually narrated by someone else, and this reader hadn't gone with the same pronunciation - a character pronounced GRIZE-thorpe for the rest of the audiobooks suddenly becomes GRISS-thorpe, causing much shouting in the general direction of the CD player here.

Blood, sweat and tea, by Tom Reynolds. London: HarperCollins eBooks, 2009. Kindle edition.

I've been meaning to read this for a while; I started reading "Tom Reynolds" (actually Brian Kellet)'s blog three or four years ago in the wake of the 7/7 attacks on London, but hadn't gone all the way back to the beginning. Reynolds is an ambulance driver and first responder for the London Ambulance Service, based in Newham. He recounts his shift when he finishes each day, partly as catharsis and partly for the sake of public information. Sometimes it's euphoric, when he or his crew have actually saved a life, sometimes desperately sad. He worries about emotional burnout and the way the world's going, while trying to avoid suicidal pedestrians leaping in front of his ambulance. He comments on the emergency services and the NHS, drug and alcohol misuse and the increasing misuse of the ambulance service for minor injuries. He claims to hate everybody, regardless of race, colour or religion; but the amount of compassion in these diaries exposes this as a lie.

1 comment:

Mary deB said...

I just read Cambridge Blue... I was crushed to realize that I don't remember every dang street name 5 years later... I agree that Goodhew is a bit much -- I thought a sort of Rebus-wannabee without the whisky. I have got a hold on the second one, but it isn't even in the library system yet, so I'll just wait.
And why is it called Cambridge Blue?