Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Book Update

I have been sadly remiss in my postings bookwise this month, being distracted by all that time off and all that craft stuff.

But I have been reading. I started off the new Year with a surefire favourite. Without Fail by Lee Child. I've been reading his books all out of order, so this is one of the early ones. This one came before he could tell the time without the aid of a watch! It was quite a surprise to me - I was so used to him needing no such instrument that I was quite taken aback when he looked at his watch in one chapter. Anyway, that'll teach me not to read them in the right order. So, what was the book like. Well you know what to expect with a Lee Child - snappy plotting, great main characters, bit of love interest and everyone wants to get Jack Reacher. This one is no exception. He gets summoned to Washington by the Secret Service to check out their security on the Vice President Elect. Seems there's someone doesn't think he should be the VP-Elect. Who you gonna call? I found all the presidential security stuff fascinating, and there's quite a bit of backstory to old Jack himself - all about his brother. which I also liked as you don't normally get much on Jack's history or family. A really good thriller that does just what it says on the tin.

I moved on after that to Salt River which the final part of James Sallis' John Turner trilogy. It's a fine piece of writing, very much character-driven rather than plot-driven and I loved it, which may surprise some of you as I usually prefer a plot-driven book. This is just so beautifully written though that it just sucks you in. It was one of those books that you read slowly because you don't want it to end and there is no greater compliment I can give a book than that.

Next up was a complete change of time and subject. Company of Liars by Karen Maitland was one of the Waterstones New Writers promotion last year and also one of their Books of the Month. I do love the cover which totally sums up what the book is about. The story revolves around a group of people thrown together by chance, travelling across 14th Century England in search of work and to escape the plague which is on their heels. It's narrated by Camelot who sells fake relics. The other members of the company are a magician, a musician and his apprentice, a pregnant woman and her husband, a story teller and a strange white-haired girl. I'm not sure what to say about this book. I was enjoying the story as it meandered along but it was meandering and it didn't seem to be really going anywhere, much as the band of wanderers were going nowhere really. I kind of expected there to be a big revelation at the end, and while there were several smaller revelations I had already seen them all coming so there were no surprises. The plot seems to lose its way towards the end and fizzled out in a disappointing way. It was a shame as I'd been enjoying it but I felt let down by the end. Maybe this is a result of reading so much crime fiction. You come to expect a certain level of resolution and a certain level of tension at the denouement and this just didn't deliver in that department. This was a first novel and I'm hoping there will be better from her in the future. Her next is called The Owl Killers and is also set in the 14thC. It will be out in March and I shall certainly take a look.

I'm now reading The Man in the Moss by Phil Rickman, which is one of his more supernatural titles, not a Merrily Watkins mystery. And 1977 by David Peace. More on these as I get further into them. On the basis of the first few pages though I'm preferring 1977 to The Man in the Moss and I'm thinking that 1977 is a better book than 1974 which bodes well for the books to come in that series.

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