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Tag Archives: Fiction

The Rage- Irish Crime at its Best


Rating 4.5 stars
Good crime novels have always been a particular favorite of mine, something about incurable rogues will always delight me, and on top of that I do have a wee bit of an Irish obsession. This most likely due to my heritage and the fact that there is little better in this world than a nice bottle of John Jameson. The other day an advanced reader copy of The Rage came into the bookshop I work at and now I can add another thing to the list of things I love, the books of Gene Kerrigan.

Mr Kerrigan has written a wonderful, quickly paced story with incredibly well designed and intriguing characters. A former nun hiding from a shameful past within a monastery, a decent cop who tries to toe the line, and a street hood fresh out of prison and looking for the big score, no more petty jobs for him.

Gene Kerrigan also does a fantastic job of transporting the reader into a modern day Ireland, without over romanticizing the land by over-embellishing the land with a few too many emerald-green glens like other authors have been wont to do.

The only problem there might have been with this books was I finished it far too quickly, and I am eagerly looking forward to reading more from this author.

The Rage
by Gene Kerrigan
ISBN 9781846552564

 
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Posted by on September 26, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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The Yard: A Preview


I love a good mystery, and I’m also very interested in Victorian London, which meant when an advanced reading copy of the upcoming novel The Yard by Alex Grecian came into Indigo Books my manager made sure I got my hands on it. After basically reading it nonstop the biggest problem is it will be at least until June before the rest of you can read it.

The Yard takes place shortly after Jack the Ripper went through his spree in Whitechapel, and I was very grateful that the notorious man didn’t make a cameo appearance in the novel, with the exception of a dream or two. The London presented by Grecian has not been whitewashed, it is a dark, gritty and horribly inhospitable place. Children are kidnapped forced into workshops or up chimneys and in just the month before the book takes place at least 96 men with their throats slit were fished out of the Thames. Grecian certainly doesn’t try to portray the city through an inaccurate nostalgic lens.

Our main characters are the boys from The Murder Squad, the twelve detectives charged by Scotland Yard to handle every murder case that happens within London. These men are given strong and vivid characters and each one of the detectives is clearly and compellingly distinct from the others. The novel debuts with the discovery that one of their fellow detectives has been murdered, and if that wasn’t enough for them another serial killer has begun a reign of terror in the city. The novel also shows us the birth of forensics to solve crime with Dr. Kingsley the Yard’s first Forensic Pathologist.

The actual mysteries in the book are not the main focus, we regularly follow the villain’s perspective, so we know who the guilty parties are well before the end of the book. . The book’s real strength is in the polices interactions with each and the stresses of trying to rebuild the reputation of The Yard after the Ripper fiasco.

The Murder Squad is based an actual and similarly understaffed division of Scotland Yard that was created to try to curtail the bad press that Jack the Ripper caused.

This is a great work by a debut novelist, and I can’t wait to read more books in this series.

To pre-order a copy please shop IndieBound:

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Posted by on February 9, 2012 in Fiction

 

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Moby Dick on T-book



Lately the publishing world has been turned upside down by the e-book revolution, and many people are theorizing that the days of traditional publishing are coming to an end. Out of the mess I’ve now seen one unique option out of the massive amount of book options, a t-book. What is a t-book it is my phrase for a toilet paper book. Some one has taken it upon himself to type out all of Herman Melville’s classic on a few rolls of toilet paper.
They’ve recently tried to sell it on Ebay, and somehow it didn’t manage to sell. Maybe next time. It could be that not everyone is over the moon with Moby Dick, and that Nathaniel Philbrick’s new book “Why Read Moby Dick” deserves to be read. Or perhaps nearly $1000 is just too much to pay for 6 rolls of aged toilet paper.

Just think if you were equipped with a t-book, you’d always have something to read while being indisposed in the water closet. I see good things in the future of the t-book.

 
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Posted by on January 28, 2012 in Fiction, miscellany

 

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John le Carre: The Pinnacle of Spycraft


With the release of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy I’ve recently gotten back into reading John le Carre’s books. I had already loved and greatly enjoyed Tinker Tailor and its two sequels The Honorable Schoolboy and Smiley’s People. To be honest I definitely did feel the movie did the book justice it was just to intricate to be summed up in 2 hours, but hats off to them for trying.Since the movie I’ve read two more of his books.

The first A Perfect Spy. This book delves into why Magnus Pym went into the intelligence business and also why he disappeared from that world. Unlike most spy stories this isn’t a true thriller, it is much more a psychological exploration of the character of Pym and is told through a few different voices and we get to see how Pym views himself, how his wife saw him and even through his boss Jack Brotherhood’s perspective. All of this interpretations are slightly and subtly different. With this novel you are left with no doubts as to why le Carre is trumpeted as bringing spy novels into the ranks of literature instead of just fiction.
The book also apparently carries a semi-autobiographical themes as le Carre had a similar upbringing and was brought into the service in similar way.


A Perfect Spy
by John le Carre
ISBN:978-0143119760

The other book by him I just read was The Tailor of Panama. These two books were about as different as could be. The Tailor of Panama was about an ex-con turned tailor getting black mailed to spy on his clients. The tone is much lighter and felt comedic. The book was a ton of fun and is certainly perfect for a day at the beach or for a flight.

The Tailor of Panama
by John le Carre
ISBN: 978-0345420435

 
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Posted by on January 28, 2012 in Fiction

 

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Narcolepsy and Mystery: A review



As I’m sure I mentioned in my review for Already Dead, I love a good pulp story and a classic noir tale. I especially love it when someone does something new within that genre and that is exactly what I got with The Little Sleep by Paul Tremblay.
We are treated to the first and perhaps only narcoleptic private detective, a certain Mark Genevich. Narcolepsy which I admit is a disorder I know little about, effect Mark in many more ways than just having him fall asleep at inconvenient moments. He is also prone to hallucinations and a few waking dreams, which leads him to taking a case from a woman who whose finger tips have been stolen. When he wakes up there is a folder on his desk with money and revealing pictures of the woman he dreamed of. Making him ask the questions of who hired him and what was he hired to do.
This book is marvelous. Well written and fast paced with a case that is entrenched in a deadly intrigue involving a certain Distract Attorney and a hero that is constantly hitting the barrier of not knowing whether something is in his head or actually in the world around him.
I have to make this disclaimer if you want a straight narrative and a reliable narrator this book is not for you. If you want to be taken on a ride through a gritty and corrupt world while falling in and out of hallucinations, you can do no better than this book.

The Little Sleep                                                                                                                                                                 by Paul Tremblay                                                                                                                                                           ISBN-13: 978-0805088496                                                                                                                          http://www.paultremblay.net/

 

 

 
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Posted by on January 26, 2012 in Fiction

 

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Vampire Noir



Vampire mania has been upon us for many years, in fact I’m pretty sure it is starting to pass. One of my favorite things to come from the vampire love, I’m actually pretty sure it was published before Twilight, was Already Dead by Charlie Huston.
Charlie Huston is in my opinion a master of the modern pulp or noir novel, and this is entrance in the vampiric world. The book is very dark and gritty as Mr. Huston aims to keep the vampire a monster. His creatures all without a doubt eat human blood, it gets theorized that in order to become a vampire you have to be the type of person who eat other people to survive. Which adds something that most tales of monsters take away, by trying to force them to be sympathetic love interest they lose what makes them special.
That is not to say there isn’t a romance subplot or two in this book, but with characters that feel real and the romance is a little f****d up.
There is of course a fair amount of political intrigue as rival gangs fight over their Manhattan turf, with the main character Joe Pitt caught in the middle of it as he gets pulled by all sides as he tries to remain apolitical.
The dialogue remains believable and the action comes at a good clip.
I really think it is one of the best vampire stories since Dracula.
Already Dead
by Charlie Huston
ISBN-13: 9780345478245
Published by Del Rey
www.pulpnoir.com 

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2012 in Fiction

 

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The sordid lives of Holmes Devotees: A book review



Sherlock Holmes is certainly making a strong revival these days, Stephen Moffat brought us a fun modernized series on the BBC, Guy Ritchie has been directing the new films and the Conan Doyle estate has just authorized a new mystery. One of my favorites though is The Sherlockian by Graham Moore.

This was the novel that pulled me into the world of Holmes, something that I will forever be in its debt for. When I first read Sherlock in fifth grade I thought the books were fun and the best required reading I had done in a long while, but once the reading assignments stopped so did my interest. That was until the advanced reading copy of The Sherlockian turned up at my little bookshop while I was working there. After I read it, I was pulled in, I read the classic tales and watched as many of the films as I could, and once The Sherlockian was published it became my go-to-gift for ever bibliophile that I knew.

The most intriguing thing about this novel is how it flows through time. We see a failed attempt to assassinate Arthur Conan Doyle which leads the famed author into his own investigation trying to uncover that conspiracy. The other perspective we see is set in the modern-day involving a murder at a convention of Holmes fanatics, and a highly elusive journal of Arthur Conan Doyle. The two tales are woven together splendidly.

One amazing thing I learned was that Arthur Conan Doyle actually become a sort of amateur detective following the fame of his stories.

I will admit that The Sherlockian isn’t high literature, but it is an incredibly fun read and any Holmes or mystery fan should definitely add it to their bookcase.

The Sherlockian
by Graham Moore
ISBN- 978-0446572590
http://www.thesherlockian.com/

 
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Posted by on December 23, 2011 in Fiction

 

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Mr Sebastian… by Daniel Wallace


While working as a bookseller this was a title I always tried to put into people’s hands. When reading it I was completely blown away by the writing and how it was a truly unique book, one very much unlike any I had read before. However I always hit one road block along the way.

That roadblock being the full title. Mr Sebastian and the Negro Magician. I don’t know what it is but the word Negro instantly and without fail turned people off the idea of reading it. I believe they were afraid that if someone saw them reading it, the reader would instantly be branded a racist. This is entirely unfair to the book. I can’t deny there is racial tension in the book, and that there is prolific use of the “N” word. This is in the South during the Great Depression, of course there are some racists running around. The book however is not a hate book at all, it is one of the most enjoyable reads you can get your hands on.

The main thrust of the story happens after the title magician disappears, and an investigator takes the case to find him. He proceeds to question all the members of the tired and broken down circus our magician worked for. Each chapter is then written from the prospective of one of those circus members, during their stories everyone contradicts each other on almost every front. They can’t agree on anything not even if the magician had magic or not.

I will say this, if you need a straight narrative this book is not for you. If you want a very fresh and inventive way to tell a story, and a book that you won’t encounter again except by rereading. then this book is for you.

I really don’t believe I can recommend this one highly enough.

Mr Sebastian and the Negro magician
by Daniel Wallace
published by Anchor
ISBN-978-0307279118
http://www.danielwallace.org/home.cgi

Daniel Wallace was also the author of Big Fish, which was made quite famous by that Tim Burton fellow.

 
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Posted by on December 18, 2011 in Fiction

 

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Company of Liars by Karen Maitland


Triumphed as a darker take on the Canterbury Tales, this is one book that needs to be read.

Company of Liars by Karen Maitland is an incredible story following a group of charlatans in medieval England as they run from town to town trying ever desperately to stay ahead of the horrible plague that dogs their every move. We also learn that none of them are what meets the eye, and that the cover story was just a cover for yet another cover story.

Naturally enough plot twists abound as there is only one truth to this world, you can’t trust anyone. The characters really pop on the page and you can believe how these people exist when the only way they can make money is by being judged not on the quality of their deeds but solely on the entertainment value of their lies.
I have not had the pleasure yet to read any more of Karen Maitland’s novels but I can not wait until I get the chance.

Company of Liars
by Karen Maitland
published by Delacorte Press
ISBN-978-0385341691
http://www.karenmaitland.com/

 
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Posted by on December 18, 2011 in Fiction

 

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We, the Drowned by Carsten Jensen



This is one of my favorite books that I have read in a long, long time. Finally we are treated to a nautical tale that is more than just picking weevils out of biscuits and other overly tedious aspects of sailing life that many books decide to force on us. Generally I think this comes from an author who had to research what life on a boat was like, and then says if I had to research it, I had better well talk about it.

We, the Drowned however, focuses on the story of the individuals. The novel spans the course of four generations of Marstal a small shipping town in Denmark, we are regaled with tales of war, cannibals, great journeys and a man who claims to have literally flashed his bum to St. Peter and the Pearly Gates. It is impossible to put the book in any one category, it ranges from comedy to romance to high drama, and then back again. We, the Drowned keeps its pacing remarkably well and while there were times I was forced to put it down, I regretted having to, and couldn’t wait until I could get back to reading.

One of the most interesting things about it, is the perspective of the novel. We, the Drowned is written in the voice of “we” the town. There is a great line from the book expressing this. “Everyone of us has a story, but it is not the one he tells himself. Its author has a thousand eyes, a thousand ears and five hundred pens that never stop scribbling.”

We, the Drowned
by Carsten Jensen
translated by Charlotte Barslund
published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
ISBN-978-0151013777

 
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Posted by on December 18, 2011 in Fiction

 

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