Monday, May 19, 2008

Monday Books Update

So, what have been reading since the last book update?

I finished Flesh House by Stuart MacBride. This was excellent, if a tad on the gruesome side. A full review will follow on Eurocrime as soon as I get the time to write it, but in the meantime I can only recommend this to anyone who likes their crime on the darkly humourous side. It's very bleak but also very funny which is a neat trick if you can pull it off and MacBride can do that. And it's set in Aberdeen - always a good thing. The more books set in the North East of Scotland the better as far as I'm concerned. This book is dedicated to the Aberdeen Tourist Board with promises that he'll set the next one in summer. As far as I recall the summers are still wet and gray, just a little bit less cold, then you get that wonderful thick sea haar (that's mist to you southerners). Very atmospheric but possibly not what the tourist board had in mind.

As an antidote to all that gruesome fleshy stuff I then read the next book in C J Sansom's Matthew Shardlake series, Sovereign. I had really enjoyed Dark Fire and I thought this one was just as good. My knowledge of English history, as you are all aware, is a little bit sketchy to say the least, but having read Philippa Gregory's The Boleyn Inheritance I had met some of the characters who surround Old Henry before and was a little less mystified than I might have been. That's not to say that the book wouldn't work on its own, without a little understanding of who the people were, but it enhanced it for me. In this volume Shardlake is again out of his beloved London and away up North in York where the King is on tour. There are some great north/south divide jokes in here, as well as a deftly handled and complex plot, where Shardlake's appointed task turns out to more complicated than he thought, causing him to do a bit of soul-searching and putting him in danger. I shall try not to read the fourth in this series for a while, though it's tempting to rush off and get a copy and get right up to date.

Moving on then to what I'm reading now - Blood Brother by J A Kerley. This is a proof as its not due to be published till July in the UK, and it doesn't seem to have a date for the US. I've read all his previous books, starting with The Hundredth Man, and I've enjoyed all of them. This is the fourth in the series which is set mainly in Alabama, a part of the world that should probably feature in more fiction. They're all about Detective Carson Ryder who specialises in crimes involving psychopaths and sociopaths - they must have a lot in Alabama as they have a special unit to deal with them. I've just started this and its going well, drawing on a whole heap of back story though so it probably helps if you've read the other books. I'm fairly certain it will work as a book in its own right, but if you know that back story then I think you'll get more out of it. My only problem with this so far is that for some reason the marketing bods have decided that he should henceforth (at least in the UK) be known as J A Kerley, when all his previous books have been published as Jack Kerley. What's that all about? If anyone from HarperCollins marketing department is reading this would they like to explain it to me? I know they do all kinds of market research for these things but are they seriously saying that more people will buy a book
by J.A. as opposed to Jack? Is it something to do with Jack being a man's name and therefore women might not buy the book, or is it just jumping on the bandwagon of P J Tracy et al? Would you hesitate over a book obviously written by a man in favour of one written by an ambiguous entity? Personally I don't give two hoots what the name of the author is, (so long as it's not Simon Brett, but that's another story). It's the content that gets me, and maybe sometimes there's something about the cover that I like, but what the sex of the author way.

What do you think?

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