Category: gender

Robert Crais: It’s a cop thing.

CHASING DARKNESS by Robert Crais (First published by Orion Books, 2008)

 crais1This 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

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

MAMbowieI was frustrated to miss the V & A Museum ‘Bowie Is’ exhibition in London three years ago so was delighted that it has been temporarily relocated to a city to my home in Emilia-Romagna. It is on at Bologna’s MAMbo until 13th November 2016.

Of course, the death of David Bowie earlier this year casts a black star over the event but this also puts into true perspective the enormous contribution he made to the fields of music, fashion and art. Continue reading

THE VEGETARIAN by Han Kang (Hogarth Books, 2015)

By turns surreal and nightmarish, this is a short but complex novel which is full of secrets.

In very broad terms I would describe it as a book about descending into silence and , quite possibly , incurable madness.

The main character is Yeong-hye who is, by all accounts, an unremarkable woman. In the words of her brother-in-law: “The only thing that was especially unusual about her was that she didn’t eat meat”.

Her husband is beyond himself with a combination of rage and repulsion over his wife’s sudden change in eating habits. Her father turns to violence and attempts to force feed her meat. She tries to kill herself and is eventually institutionalized. She gives the impression that she would be happy to die and/or become a tree. Continue reading

ROOM directed by Lenny Abrahamson (Canada/Ireland/UK, 2015)


Joy and Jack look for light in the darkness.

Room is the story of survival. The main victim is Joy Newcombe ( which evokes the idea that he is the devil in human form. While in captivity he has fathered Joy’s 5-year-old son Jack and you imagine that sexual abuse is the prime motive for his actions.

There is always a morbid curiosity to uncover the dark secrets that drive this kind of depraved behavior. A weakness of the movie is that we learn so little about this man’s background or what happens to him after being apprehended. We hear of, but never really see any physical abuse and only the sound of a creaking bed tells us that he is repeatedly raping her. Continue reading

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