CHASING DARKNESS by Robert Crais (First published by Orion Books, 2008)
This is the first Robert Crais book I’ve read and to put this into true context I have a fair amount of catching to do. This is number 11 in an ongoing series of novels featuring a LA based private detective Elvis Cole and his reliable yet taciturn sidekick Joe Pike. There are already another five in the series.
Cole is the kind of maverick investigator who will say things like ‘I suppose I should’ve called the cops but I didn’t’. The implicit message is that to get results you need to take risks and ignore conventional methods.
He has enough inside contacts to enjoy the benefits of official resources without the burden of having to play by the rules. When Pike breaks into the home of a suspect, Cole says reassuringly. “Don’t worry. It’s a cop thing” . Continue reading
HERE I AM by Jonathan Safran Foer (Hamish Hamilton, 2016)
Wilkie Collins once asserted that “the primary object of a work of fiction should be to tell a story.”
Tell that to the post-modernists!
Jonathan Safran Foer says that “I have yet to write a novel from a plan” and says of his third major fictional work that “there wasn’t any one ‘idea’ but a number of disparate starting points”.
Unfortunately it shows! Continue reading
ACADEMY STREET by Mary Costello (Canongate Books, 2014)
Mary Costello’s bold and compassionate debut novel initially gives the impression it will be an uplifting life story of female empowerment.
It begins in the 1940s and is set in Western Ireland. In this time and place we meet Tess, aged 8, immediately after the sudden death of her beloved mother.
The bewilderment and uncertainty this loss produces is brilliantly evoked as is the child’s difficult relationship with her harsh and uncommunicative father.
Surely things can only get better and with Angela’s Ashes in mind you envisage emigration from Ireland to America to be the harbinger of hope and good fortune. Continue reading
THE ORPHAN MASTER’S SON by Adam Johnson (First published by Random House, 2012)
This is the story of a survivor who has nothing to live for.
Pak Jun Do is a North Korean John Doe and by all accounts a model citizen of a shitty nation.
Adam Johnson’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel illustrates that when living within ideological systems it is too easy to get stuck between a rock and a hard place. Hegemony functions to make any way of life appear to be ‘normal’ and/or beyond reproach.
Johnson asks plenty of loaded questions such as to whether it is nobler to be devoted to the ‘dear leader’ (Kim Jon II) of North Korea than to cling to an often elusive American dream. No middle way is offered. Continue reading
CHRISTINE directed by John Carpenter (USA, 1993)
“I hate Rock’n’Roll!” A good pub quiz question would be to name the movie of a Stephen King novel that ends with this statement.
Here it is in ‘Christine’ a mix of high school melodrama and sub-par horror.
The line is spoken by the movie’s human romantic interest, Leigh Cabot (Alexandra Paul) as she mistakes music from the ghetto blaster of a passing scrapyard worker for the car radio of the now crushed and cubed 1958 Plymouth Fury named Christine.
This car’s theme tune is George Thorogood and the Destroyers’ ‘Bad To The Bone’ and its identity is also defined by a series of rock classics. Bored to the bone would be more accurate.