The Verdict: Nick Stone

Not in the first tier of legal/crime/mystery stories but still good.

I don’t know if I’m getting better at discerning plot threads early, but there were several here that I thought were very early and clearly telegraphed, which took some of the interest out of the story.


Dead Time: Matt Brolly

Workmanlike until the last 20% of the novel, when the quilt unravels and dumps loose threads all over the floor.

Paint-by-number, formulaic, like a modular home slapped together from a blueprint, rather than something organic that grew together and formed a lifelike whole. Unlike other UK series (like Ian Rankin’s Rebus) there is no real human connection in the story, not in family, friends, or work colleagues. It’s as if someone read about how real human feel and tried to copy it onto the page without understanding what that really meant.

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine: Gail Honeyman

Heartwarming, charming, lonely, awkward, traumatic, emotional, inspiring, heartening, smart, warm, uplifting, somber, blunt, charming, witty, erudite, quirky, unique, Goldilocks-just-right.

Yet another excellent debut novel. Not only is Eleanor Oliphant completely fine, so is the state of modern literature going forward.

Transcript: Kate Atkinson

Oh my! Didn’t this one surreptitiously infiltrate onto my device clandestinely. I don’t remember ever having heard of this author, much less installing it on my device.

Oh my! Erudition! Intelligence! Bon mots! Clever turns of phrase! A superb sense of time and place!

And of course, the sublime Juliet Armstrong: orphan, romantic, thief, inveterate liar, unhappy virgin, free with her charms, spy, loyal friend, completely selfish, spunky, devil may care, murderess [yes, that’s a spoiler, but Ms Atkinson saves a much larger surprise ending that I had not one iota was coming].

Superb bibliography. With the ‘right’ books (my grad degree is in the History of Intelligence during this time period, so I know which ones are which).

I sincerely hope Ms Atkinson will see fit to provide me with an invitation to be part of Juliet Armstrong’s fascination life again.

I’ll be waiting.

Juliet….Juliet…wherefore art thou?

Early Riser: Jasper Fforde

Fforde is a talented, interesting writer. I truly enjoy his worlds, each just one or two molecules out of kilter with the “real” world we think we inhabit, keeping his universes seemingly mundane, but just enough different to be horribly terrifying.

Although his creations are truly interesting, ulitimately they are, unfortunately, all unique in the same way.

Try his THURSDAY NEXT or NURSERY RHYME SERIES if you like this.

A Legacy of Spies: John LeCarre

When it comes to LeCarre, there is “Good John” (almost all the non-Smiley) and “Bad John” (most of the Smiley). This being a ‘Smiley’ offering, the book is not only by my definition, “Bad John,” but also pretty pedestrian writing. The one thing the Smiley contributions do do well is highlighting the mendacity, paucity and amorality of the intelligence profession as a whole.