Tuesday, 17 May 2011

The Bride Collector

Okay, seriously, why has nobody told me about this author before?  This book was AMAZING.  Literally couldn't put it down, and hence am a weeny bit tired this morning (thankfully, I started it just before 8 and it wasn't too long, or I'd still be reading it now...)  Talk about a brilliant crime novel, which completely underlines the fact to me that a crime novel stands or falls on its characters.  Not necessarily the main characters who're chasing the 'bad guys' either, but the assorted victims, relatives and so on.  That's what makes a truly great crime novel.  And this one had interesting characters in abundance, particularly the cast from the Centre for Well Being and Intelligence, but I have to say I also loved the main character, special agent Brad Raines.

To be quite frank, I don't want to tell you what happens.  Just that you'll adore Roudi (a wanna be Sherlock Holmes), Paradise (just an incredibly human, incredibly moving character), Cass (short for Cassanova, need I say more?) and Andrea.

Who's sane?  Who's insane?  And where do you draw the line?

Fascinating, gripping, it takes you right into the heart of mental health issues and their treatment.  Plus there's a serial killer to catch.  As an added bonus, I don't think there's any bad language (not noticeable at any rate), and the author doesn't have this strange belief that just because it's a thriller there have to be male and female characters leaping into bed with each other!

I can't recommend this book enough, and I can't wait to get hold of any other books by Ted Dekker.

Monday, 2 May 2011

61 Hours

So, it's one of the more recent Jack Reacher books, the second most recent I think.  I had a bit of a phase of reading loads of these all in one go, gave up for a while, and when I saw this in the library figured I should read it.

It's a pleasant enough way of spending an afternoon.  I read it all in one go, which perhaps argues for it being a good book.  Although I've recently realised that a better mark is being forced to stop and then launching yourself straight back at the book as soon as you've done whatever interrupted you.

I found the constant references to how many hours there were left somewhat irritating.  A good way of keeping a sense of chronology perhaps, but not necessary.  Especially as I couldn't tell you with any degree of certainty what the countdown was actually to.  Was it the lady being attacked or the escape or when the lady was meant to be attacked or what?

The ending was a little bit like the one at the end of Six Sacred Stones, in that it's vaguely cliff-hangerry.  You know he survives, because there's another book.  It's just a case of working out how (I'm proud to say I was almost right with Six Ancient Stones).  But that was good because it was guessable.  I'm not seeing any way out based on the text so far, which would mean there's probably some loophole which enables Reacher to escape.  Of course, I might just be being ignorant, in which case I'll hold up my hands and say okay, that works.  Which I guess means I have to read the next one.

One thing I will say is that it doesn't particularly matter if this is the first one you start with.  I presume there's a gradual chronological moving forward, but as Reacher just sort of drifts across America with no personal belongings and as each of the incidents described occur in a different place across America with little tying them together, it doesn't really matter.  The only constant figure is Reacher, who according to one of those little sloganny bits you get on books all women are meant to fancy.  I'm not quite convinced, but there you are.  He's a great character in many ways, and it basically means the author gets to create loads of new characters for every book, which can be as fun as it can be hard work.  (Personally, I find surnames hardest.  They usually all need to be different, and while you can nab character traits and forenames of real people you know, surnames are a little more personal...). 

At any rate, it's a decent enough book, albeit nothing spectacular.  If you like crime with a slightly unusual main character, this is a series you'll undoubtedly enjoy.  Although at times Reacher comes across a bit Sherlock Holmesy, if you know what I mean :)

Osama Bin Laden and 'Justice'

I know I don't normally make political comments, but this is all over the news at the moment for obvious reasons, and I think it's worth making a few points.

While what has happened is almost certainly positive--and I certainly don't want to demean those who killed him--it's not justice.  Justice would be putting him through the law courts, following due process, and then legally executing him.  A comparison can probably be made with resisting arrest, in which case it's fair enough that he was shot.  But again, not justice.  Also, while I presume the burying him at sea was in order that his body doesn't become a rallying point, it does seem a little odd.  Or is it only me that finds it strange that the body has been disposed of so rapidly?  Again, I'm not trying to make up some wild conspiracy theory that the Americans either didn't find him or shot him without cause, but it does look odd.

I suppose we were all wondering just how quickly the Royal Wedding would be displaced from the news.  Whilst media coverage did seem OTT (and in particular the idea that we need a bank holiday just before May Bank every year...), at least it was something positive in the news for a change.  Now there seems to be a bit of a gore fest going on, and everyone's leaping in and this is dominating the news even more than the Wedding.  What happened to balance?  The Libyan ambassador to the UK was kicked out today (it kinda surprised me that hadn't happened weeks ago), there were a large number of tornadoes in Alabama, and I have no doubt that more things have happened that I haven't seen on the news.  All of a sudden, nobody cares that Kate and William postponed their honeymoon for security reasons, and we're all panicking about revenge attacks.

I suppose the fear of revenge attacks is a big factor against having a 'proper' trial, not that we'd be in any doubt as to the outcome.  But if that's a motive for making a mockery of justice, then surely the terrorists are winning by subverting exactly what makes 'us' different from what 'they' want.

At the end of the day, a certain part of me is glad that Bin Laden is gone.  But surely we should be celebrating more in terms of attacks he now cannot organise, rather than fearing those his supporters might.  And it's certainly not 'justice'.  Call it revenge, call it the end of a man hunt, but I don't see how it can be rightly called justice.