I loved Kerrigan's two previous crime books (Little Criminals, The Midnight Choir), so I picked this up with great anticipation. Set amidst the aftermI loved Kerrigan's two previous crime books (Little Criminals, The Midnight Choir), so I picked this up with great anticipation. Set amidst the aftermath of Ireland's real estate bust, the story follows two main storylines. One protagonist is Vincent Taylor, just out of jail for having beaten someone on the street over some childish name calling. Determined to never again take any stupid risks with the law without adequate reward, he's busy planning an intricate armored car heist. Meanwhile, on the other side of the law is D.S. Tidey, who's been assigned to assist with investigating the murder of a wealthy Dublin property developer. As one would expect, the course of the book leads the to the paths of the two protagonists crossing (if not quite literally) via a retired nun. The story flits back and forth between the two men in a way that maintains a brisk pace, but at the expense of a little choppiness. The chapters are only 5-6 pages long, so no sooner have you settled in with one situation than you are teleported to a another.
My favorite part of the book was the heist plotline, which is packed with fascinating details (like GPS chips in shirt-collars). However, after it goes somewhat south, it all gets a bit messy in a somewhat predictable way. Similarly, the investigation into the murdered property developer leads to some very connected people who have the power to shut the investigation down once a semi-plausible culprit has been identified. D.S. Tidey faces the classic dilemma of disobeying his orders or walking away to fight crime another day. The social justice aspect of the book (crooked developers, and even the nun has a dark backstory) probably strays a touch over the line into being heavy-handed, but it's a well-crafted and well-told book stocked with fully-realized characters. Definitely worth reading if you like crime with a procedural bent, or have a particular interest in Ireland....more
In the late '90s I stumbled across, and loved, Hawes' first novel (A White Merc with Fins). But I didn't care much for his second book (Rancid AluminuIn the late '90s I stumbled across, and loved, Hawes' first novel (A White Merc with Fins). But I didn't care much for his second book (Rancid Aluminum), so I kind of forgot about him for a decade. Casting about for something new to read, I remembered him and decided to take a flutter on this one. The premise of a middle-aged academic discovering the titular military rifle in his back yard, with wacky antics ensuing, sounded like it had potential. Alas, I didn't really connect with the satire that results. The story is basically a send-up of reflexively liberal Guardian-reading academics of a certain age, who feel under siege by the modern marketplace and neoliberal imperialism, and like to whine about it.
The story takes place over the course of a few days when the protagonist's wife has taken the kids away on a holiday so that he can focus on finishing the Very Important Paper he is slated to deliver in a week. This paper that could be the resurrection of his creaking career, which has been adrift since the revelation that the East German poet that he championed and made his reputation on was actually a major in the KGB, spying on dissident artists. In any event, procrastinating from his writing leads him to a little night-time gardening, which leads him to the gun, and then in turn, a boozing session with a thuggish neighborhood watch type, a ride into the teeming streets of late-night London revelers, a scary visit to Peckham, and then a whirlwind trip to Prague and Dresden. Wacky antics do indeed, ensure -- they're just not necessarily all that amusing.
The best part of the book is his trip to Prague, where he books a session of instruction at a local gun club, where he is shepherded by a an ex-Sarajevan Muslim, who explains the world to him. But all in all, the satire is just too broad, the protagonist too unlikeable, and the plot twists too silly, for me to really enjoy the book....more
I remember setting aside the Bloomberg BusinessWeek that had the Glock cover story in 2009 to read, and never getting to it. Three years later it appe I remember setting aside the Bloomberg BusinessWeek that had the Glock cover story in 2009 to read, and never getting to it. Three years later it appeared in greatly expanded form as this book, which I picked up and subsequently spent four years not getting to. Finally picked it up the other day and blazed through it. It's a quick read partially because its chopped into twenty short chapters, and partially because like a lot of magazine articles punched up into books, it's a bit repetitive at times and allows for some skimming.
My favorite parts had to do with the engineering and sales and marketing aspects of how the company and fun came into being and rapidly took over the US handgun market. That all makes for a fascinating business case study. Aspects of the company's lobbying and legal strategies that tied into this and were also of interest. Less engaging to me were broader sections about gun culture in the US and the detailing of shenanigans going on inside the company. The first half is worth reading even if you're not a gun owner or have much of an interest in guns per se. Second half, less so....more
I'd heard good things about Neal Asher's science fiction so I picked this one up because although it's connected to his "Polity" series, it's billed aI'd heard good things about Neal Asher's science fiction so I picked this one up because although it's connected to his "Polity" series, it's billed as a standalone, so I wasn't committing myself to anything -- that, and it's under 250 pages, which is rare in this particular genre. From what I can tell, the book functions as a kind of prequel, or origin story for his most famous character "Agent Cormac." The book follows two strands and timelines -- the first, and lesser, takes place during Cormac's childhood on Earth. The latter, which is given a good 2/3 to 3/4 of the pages, follows him on his first mission as a soldier, as he gets caught up in some serious high-stakes undercover work.
I guess at the end of the day, it's competently written military sci-fi, with a good dose of intrigue to it. The childhood stuff wasn't ever really that interesting to me, but those who've read a bunch of books featuring this character might get more out of it. Asher's strengths seem to lie in concocting reams of interesting future technology and assembling it all into a vivid tableau. The underlying politics and dynamics weren't totally clear to me, not having read the full series, but there's enough to get by on. Asher's other strength is in setting up and unveiling small scale combat sequences that are dark and bloody.
It's all solid enough and readable, but Cormac is never really developed as a character, so it's hard to get that invested in him. Really, he comes across on the page as a fairly generic action hero. Can't say I'm inspired to read others in the series....more