One of Rankin's first books, and to be honest, it reads like it's from a young author. But there's something so electric and headlong about it, I love...moreOne of Rankin's first books, and to be honest, it reads like it's from a young author. But there's something so electric and headlong about it, I loved it. The edition I read was published in conjunction with the book's 20th anniversary, with a foreword by Rankin talking about who he was at the time, and the inspiration for/circumstances around the writing and publication of the book, which was great to get the background. (I don't always love things like that, but in this instance it was really good.)
Some indelible phrases in there as well, like, "She smelt good, like a baby on a fireside towel." What the hell does that even mean? but yet, there it is, stuck in my head.
Thought the identification of the culprit and the mystery's resolution were a little too pat, but hey, it's a book of under 300 pages, it wasn't like there was a ton of time to drag it all out. And given that Rankin (according to the foreword) never foresaw this as book 1 of a series (now something like 20 books, seriously) and actually planned not to have Rebus even survive the book, it was probably as much a matter of style as anything else.
Worth checking out, I think, even if you don't plan to go any further with the series.(less)
Once you've read a number of the Burke books, you can pretty much anticipate how it's going to play out - the roles of the usual cast of characters, i...moreOnce you've read a number of the Burke books, you can pretty much anticipate how it's going to play out - the roles of the usual cast of characters, if not the nuts and bolts of how this particular plot will be resolved. (Actually, this one surprised me a little in the denouement.)
I was pretty uncomfortable with Burke's relationship with Gem - her infantilization. Come to think of it, all of his relationships with women have a similar tone, if I recall correctly. I would have to go back and re-read to be sure, and honestly, I'm not sure that I'm up for it. I appreciate Vachss' commitment to the Children of the Secret, and the dedication of his main character to ridding the world of sexual predators, but I don't know that I want to re-immerse myself in Burke's world.
Although I do also appreciate how much he loves his dog.(less)
I previously read one of the later John Cardinal books (Blackfly Season, I think) and remembered liking it, so when I ran across a copy of Forty Words...moreI previously read one of the later John Cardinal books (Blackfly Season, I think) and remembered liking it, so when I ran across a copy of Forty Words I grabbed it.
Rather gruesome, so those who are easily squicked out should avoid. This is not a cozy mystery. John Cardinal is a detective with the Algonquin Bay police department; he is newly partnered with Lise Delorme, who has just transferred from "Special" (I think the equivalent of Internal Affairs?) and may or may not be investigating Cardinal's possible involvement in leaking advance information to a criminal about planned raids. Cardinal is in disgrace, having insisted to his superiors that a series of teen disappearances is connected and gotten booted out of the homicide division as a result. The discovery of the body of one of those missing teens gets him back in their good graces, though, and he and Delorme try to connect the cases and track down a murderer in their midst.(less)
However, I'm a little distressed to find out it's book #1 of a planned 7-volume series. Fortunately, at least this one can be read as a...moreSO. MUCH. FUN.
However, I'm a little distressed to find out it's book #1 of a planned 7-volume series. Fortunately, at least this one can be read as a stand-alone - the story is wrapped up completely by book's end, with only "can't wait to see what happens next to these characters", not a cliffhanger. I'll definitely be picking up the next one.(less)
Don't know what it was exactly about this one, but it didn't really rivet me the way some of George's books have. My main issue was (as is frequently...moreDon't know what it was exactly about this one, but it didn't really rivet me the way some of George's books have. My main issue was (as is frequently the case) Havers' obstinate refusal to perform the assignment she is given. I have to wonder if a real DC would not have been given her walking papers by now, given how many times she has screwed up. Results, yes, but a police force lives and dies by its hierarchical structure, and I don't know that her behavior would continue to be tolerated despite the results.(less)
One of the things I initially liked about the character of Anita Blake was that she had a moral compass, and her job as an animator (the kind that rai...moreOne of the things I initially liked about the character of Anita Blake was that she had a moral compass, and her job as an animator (the kind that raises the dead, not the kind that draws Bambi), her consulting position with the cops, and her burgeoning skills as a necromancer all kept putting her in positions where she had to evaluate her behavior and decide if she was still one of the "good guys." Not that I'm saying I'm the kind of person who carries multiple guns, hangs out with vampires and/or shapeshifters, or has power over the dead, but I empathized with her conflicts. She did things she later regretted, yet knew she would have done exactly the same thing in the same circumstances, even knowing that she'd be torn up about it later. Most of the time if you asked her to justify her position on an issue, the only thing she could come up with it "it's the right thing to do." I can understand that. I'm bad at parsing the philosophical underpinnings of my decisions, but I know "right" when I feel it.
As the series continued, Ms. Hamilton started to lose me with what I call "Ayla syndrome": as in Jean Auel's Clan of the Cave Bear series, where the main character is credited with increasing numbers of skills and discoveries (Ayla discovers fire. Ayla invents sewing. Ayla tames horses), Anita is given new abilities at virtually every juncture. Up to a point, it makes sense: Anita puts herself into situations or asserts authority without perceiving the consequences of her actions, and only by virtue of dumb luck, strong skills with firearms, and her metaphysical abilities (and later training) she manages to avoid getting killed and most of the time saves the people she cares about, with the result that she usually wins the respect of former enemies (or kills them!) But as we went along and new skills and/or complications continued to pop up and get integrated into her world, it began to beggar the imagination that one person could encompass all of it. The only explanation I could come up with was either that these people Anita's supposed to love have lied and/or kept major important facts from her (which in past would have been cause for her to terminate the relationship - one way or another), or that Ms. Hamilton couldn't figure out how to keep things fresh without adding on new complications.
The other thing that started out believable and degenerated to "completely unacceptable" (in my opinion) was Anita's sex life. Now, I like a good sex scene as much as anyone else, but the sexier Anita became, the more uncomfortable I grew. At the beginning, Anita was holding out for marriage, because that's the way she was raised and how she felt about sex. She acknowledged her attraction to certain men, but she was not into casual screwing around. With two extremely hot men wooing her, she didn't even sleep with one of them until the 6th book. The woman had standards. In NiC, tho', she gets overcome by the "ardeur", AKA, the lust-monkey power of her vampire lover, Jean-Paul, which compels her to fuck pretty much anyone. "Oh, geez, honey, I know I used to be a good Catholic girl, but now that I have your love buttons on me I just can't say no to a nekkid man." It's very disappointing, especially since the book just previous to NiC, Obsidian Butterfly, was very good, almost a noir treatment, and I thought Hamilton had made a real leap in her writing. Maybe that was it. Or maybe Hamilton divorced her old husband and started fucking some young stud* and felt she had to write about her quality orgasms. Of course, she also started another series around the time NiC was published, and it's almost pure soft porn, so it's not like she didn't have an outlet for all the sexual energy she was putting out there.
* Wholly speculative. Please, Ms. Hamilton, don't sue me.
So I will say this: Hamilton's Anita Blake books are fun, the writing from the first (Guilty Pleasures) up to Obsidian Butterfly improved markedly, but don't bother with NiC (or Cerulean Sins, which is where I gave up entirely on the series), 'cause you'll be disappointed. So saith me.(less)