Saturday, December 15, 2012

2012 books, #101-105

Harry Potter and the goblet of fire, by J K Rowling [audiobook]. Read by Stephen Fry.  Bath: Cover to Cover, 2001.

Another very enjoyable listen, although for the first time the ending slightly irked me.  I hadn't really clocked before that the real drama finishes about two hours before the end of this audiobook, and after that it's politics and a lot of scene-setting for book 5.  This makes it a bit flat just at the end...  But as ever there are some wonderful ideas in this book, and it was well worth listening to again, particularly as Stephen Fry is the perfect voice both for the book and for a chilly autumn weekend.

Kisscut, by Karin Slaughter [audiobook]. Read by Kelly Culpin. [S.l.] : Chivers, 2003.

Disturbing from start to finish.  A teenage girl is shot dead in the parking lot of a local skating rink, and is carrying a rucksack which turns out to contain parts of a dismembered baby.  What might have been a single personal tragedy turns into a much wider horror in a small town.  Sara Linton, the local paediatrician, and her ex-husband Geoff Tolliver, the chief of police, investigate.  This really does cover some quite horrible issues, and it's done very well.

The secret scripture, by Sebastian Barry. London: Faber, 2009.

Roseanne McNulty may be a hundred years old; nobody knows.  She lives in the Roscommon mental hospital to which she was committed as a young woman; but "care in the community" is taking over, the building is becoming increasingly decrepit, and psychiatrist Dr Grene must decide where his patients must go, and discover why they were committed.  Both are, unknown to the other, writing their own narratives of their lives, and gradually the picture of Roseanne's life, and Dr Grene's place in it, is revealed.  I found this book difficult to get into for the first few dozen pages (got sidetracked by the Dante reference on the first page); but it's a quick and moving read after that.

Black dog, by Stephen Booth [audiobook]. Read by Christopher Kay.  Rearsby, Leics.: WF Howes, 2005.

The first of the Ben Cooper/Diane Fry books; I've read a few of these, but this one was particularly interesting because now I know why there was so much animosity between them in the following ones.  I wasn't massively impressed by the plot of this one, to be honest - there just wasn't enough thrown to the reader for a decent guess at the killer - but the character development was enough to keep me listening.  Christopher Kay is a decent reader, if a little over-precise at times...

Whispers under ground, by Ben Aaronovitch. London: Gollancz, 2012.

Possibly the most enjoyable book I've read this year - this is just a beauty of a book, but you need to read the first two (Rivers of London  and Moon over Soho) first to understand what's going on.  I suppose it qualifies as SF; it has humour, some genuinely scary bits, but mostly it's brilliant because it's talking about London right now, Crossrail works, Oyster cards, etc., all mixed with some serious magic.  And then some lovely digressions which aren't really digressions:

The media response to unusual weather is as ritualised and predictable as the stages of grief.  First comes denial: "I can't believe there's so much snow." Then anger: "Why can't I drive my car, why are the trains not running?"  Then blame: "Why haven't the local authorities gritted the roads, where are the snow ploughs and how come the Canadians can deal with this and we can't?"  This last stage goes on the longest and tends to trail off into a mumbled grumbling background moan, enlivened by occasional "Asylum Seekers Ate My Snowplough" headlines from the Daily Mail, that continues until the weather clears up.

I like the way the severe facial disfigurement of one character is handled; the way none of the "normal" authorities want to deal with magical occurrences and just write them out of their reports; and the small asides about policing:

I'd given her a Moleskine reporter-style notebook that looks almost exactly the kind of black notebook that everyone thinks the police use, only we don't. And even if we did, we'd be much too cheap to buy Moleskines - we'd get them from Niceday instead."

Working in London is probably an advantage for this book.  Reading about a body being discovered on Platform 3 at Baker Street a few days before Christmas is considerably spookier if you're actually sitting on Platform 3 at Baker Street a few days before Christmas reading the book.... 

I probably need to shut up about how excellent this book is and just tell you to get hold of a copy of it, or the first one if you haven't read it, and get stuck in.  One more quote though, from the end - British DC talking to FBI agent:

"I won't use the word closure if you don't", I said.


1 comment:

SusieH said...

I adore the Ben Aaronovitch books, as do my husband and son. He really evokes London beautifully!