Somehow I've never got around to reading the Rebus books. partly as I owned a couple but wasn't sure which was the first. So I checked and, on my verySomehow I've never got around to reading the Rebus books. partly as I owned a couple but wasn't sure which was the first. So I checked and, on my very next charity shop crawl, found Knots and Crosses in the second shop for a quid. Result.
It's a recent edition so has a forword from the author explaining the times in which the book was written (no mobile phones, etc) and also excusing his youthful shortcomings. While there are issues with the novel, none of the things Rankin's more experienced critical eye were, for me, amkng them.
This is, at base, a fairly formulaic police detective novel - copper with a troubled past, drink problem, broken marriage and child maturing rapidly becomes embroiled in a murder case that takes on an unforeseeon personal aspect. But. The writing is very good indeed, especially the sense of place and characterisation via action and inner monologue. Okay, at this stage he's not the equal of Val McDermid or Chris Brookmyre, but neither were they so early in their careers. The psychological depth really doez set him apart from the mass ofcrkme writing (excepting the previously mentioned authors and a tiny handful of others). I would say that two areas that let him down are a certain naivity to the plotting (he states in the jntro that he wasn't interested in reading crime fiction) and the dialogue. While the inner thoughts of the characters are distinct, when it comes to their speech it is all but impossible to tell one from another.
All n all, this is a tightly written and gripping novel that makes me eager to raed the next. Hell, it's the first book I've read in24 hours in some time and, even taking into account I was travelling, that speaks volumes.
(please excuse the typos; this review written on my tablet screen)...more
I'd been in the mood to read a fast, fun thriller for awhile, and as I had several unread Brookmyre novels on my shelfA carefully spoiler-free review.
I'd been in the mood to read a fast, fun thriller for awhile, and as I had several unread Brookmyre novels on my shelf I was definitely gravitating in that direction. When I found the audiobook of Attack of the Unsinkable Rubber Ducks I was sold – even though it's the fifth of the Jack Parlabane adventures and I haven't read all the previous ones yet, I didn't expect it to be a big obstacle as they are, like most crime series', not direct follow ons in anything other than events in the main characters' lives.
I must confess that as the story opened I felt slightly disappointed. The extract from a book by fictional Mail journalist Jillian Noble about an encounter with the supernatural seemed to be somewhat heavy-handed in signposting the direction the novel might take. Noble is smug, snotty, overly credulous and sneeringly dismissive of sceptical rationalism – so strongly antithetical to both Brookmyre and Parlabane that the set up for a fall seemed sadly obvious. Ironically, I should have had more faith in the author, because while it is indeed a set up, it is the reader who is being set up for a sudden, unexpected curve ball coming out of left field that whips any assumptions out from under you like a deftly pulled tablecloth. This is a trick Brookmyre pulls again and again throughout this superbly constructed, extremely well written book. He leads your expectations from one point of view before bringing in another angle to make you realise that you are balancing precariously on a crumbling ledge of unfounded assumption rather than the firm, flat bedrock of facts. There are also dawning moments of realisation that made me laugh out loud, to add to the many trademark chuckles you'd expect from a writer who has been called 'the Scottish Carl Hiaasen'. The twists and changes of perspective kept me guessing right up to the joyous payoff (although I had worked out a couple of the facts I wasn't certain of them, and doubt it was my own Holmsian deductive abilities that allowed me to work them out so much as cunning winks from the author to make me feel better about being duped!)
I realise I've said nothing about the plot – deliberately, as this would be an easy book to give spoilers on. Suffice to say it is a book about belief, deception and assumptions. If you like your thrillers clever, thoughtful and laugh-out-loud funny (not to mention quite sweary and not infrequently violent, although in this case less violent than usual), I highly recommend you acquaint yourself with Christopher Brookmyre ...more
A good, solid Banks book - not one of his classics, perhaps, but a superbly paced thriller that handles both the different skeins of narration and theA good, solid Banks book - not one of his classics, perhaps, but a superbly paced thriller that handles both the different skeins of narration and the twists and turns of plot deftly. The novel is a contemplation of solipsism, and of the responsibilities and insulations of power, with a lovely mirror held up to the War on Terror and a quick diversion into financial ethics.
For me, all Banks' great books fall into his SF works, and in some ways this "cross-over" allows him to flex some of those same allegorical muscles here (although he has done so before, with the Bridge and Walking on Glass), and this is definitely in the high end of his non-M books....more