If a week is a long time in politics, that probably holds true for political books doubly so. This book's biggest flaw is that very march of time. ItIf a week is a long time in politics, that probably holds true for political books doubly so. This book's biggest flaw is that very march of time. It was written in a world where Corbyn had just won a frankly surprising victory to take just shy of 60% of the membership vote. It was not written, though, in a world where Corbyn had just fought an acrimonious coup from within the majority of his own PLP; a world where Cameron's Brexit referendum was lost (or won depending on your point of view) and he resigned in embarrassment. So much has changed since this book was written that it's a good thing that, relatively, so little of this book is actually about Corbyn and his odds of leading the party to electoral victory.
Instead the majority of the book is a history of the Labour party through the prism of Corbyn's victory, starting with a brief recap of his selection victory, and once you recover from the fact that the title is pretty misleading it's a fascinating exploration of Seymour's thoughts on the mistakes that the party has historically repeated each time it's gained power. He riffs on ideas that the PLP has always been generally to the right of it's membership with examples throughout the past leaderships of Blair, Milliband and so on; and that each time the party gains power it sometimes manages to throw it away again. This leads to the final section where Seymour weighs up the challenges that Corbyn's leadership faces ― both inside and outside the party ― and whether he believes Corbyn has the ability to push through and overcome them. It feels a little like Seymour was nervous of writing this section and ended up putting all his effort into the history section and left this analysis to just the last forty pages. And, again, even in these last few pages Seymour seems to lose his nerve again and leaves us with a slightly limp maybe, it's possible, but not likely, who knows....more
It's a difficult book to review without spoilering, because this book is really all about the twist at the end. And almost every problem I had with thIt's a difficult book to review without spoilering, because this book is really all about the twist at the end. And almost every problem I had with this book are spoilers. The short version is that it's not as good as the previous one and suffers (I think too heavily) from an overly contrived attempt to shoehorn a completely non-Holmes novel into a Holmes series.
Chase is a Pinkerton's man and Jones is a Scotland Yard Inspector chasing a previously unknown American criminal mastermind who's over moving in on Moriarty's patch after his death at the hands of Holmes at the Reichenbach Falls. The background is totally unnecessary for the story except as a vehicle for 'the twist' and it's clear throughout that there's more going on than Horowitz is willing to share. There are several unresolved 'features' that are purely there to disorient you - and to be fair to Horowitz the actual twist was the only one I didn't spot on the way through - but why aren't they tidied up?
The (view spoiler)[unreliable narrator (hide spoiler)] trope is a frustrating one if not handled well, and for me this didn't quite work. The whole thing felt too contrived, wasn't really a Sherlock Holmes novel, turned over too much canon and left too many unanswered questions. But, as a non-Holmes novel i quite enjoyed it...
There was an nice little short story at the end (a proper Sherlock Holmes story this time) that told the tale that Jones refers to in the main novel....more
Emily Chappell paints a fabulous picture of the mythology of the life of a cycle courier in London. Starting the job herself in part because she was sEmily Chappell paints a fabulous picture of the mythology of the life of a cycle courier in London. Starting the job herself in part because she was seduced by the idea of cool couriers flying around town, their freedom, the outdoor lifestyle, the camaraderie, the social life, the counter-culture community. Instead, she finds out that the reality is both nothing as she imagined, and everything she had imagined. The camaraderie, the outdoor lifestyle and the freedom are all there, but it's also frequently wet and cold, involves long periods of sitting around waiting for the next job, verbal assault, physical assault and even when there is work the pay is so small that couriers frequently have to decide if they can really afford that coffee between jobs.
Yet, none of this seems to extinguish her obvious — and infectious — love for the choice she has made: the lifestyle, her colleagues and most of all, her love of London itself. For while this is a tale of a cycle courier's life it is as much the tale of her love of cycling, her love of the city, the psychogeography of London itself. The quiet backstreets, the postcodes, the shortcuts, the glimpsed colleagues, the loading bays, the receptionists and security guards, the hidden parks and the pubs and cafés. This love manages to stay steady and unflinching throughout the whole tale, only at the very end in the last chapter is there a downturn — an unexpected undercurrent of negativity — has the courier life finally got too much for Emily?
So easily, cycling autobiographies can be too utilitarian — Victoria Pendleton's story is fascinating, but the prose is lacklustre, even a little whiny in places — but like The Rider draws you into its story of the unrelenting obsession of cycle racing, What Goes Around draws you into Emily Chappell's story of the unashamed joy of just cycling round London and while it would be the craziest idea in the world, reading Emily's story makes me wish I had been a cycle courier too......more
Plodding police procedural laden with clichéd Ripper references and will-they-won't-they moves. Cleverly rescued with some devious plot twists and anPlodding police procedural laden with clichéd Ripper references and will-they-won't-they moves. Cleverly rescued with some devious plot twists and an unreliable narrator that you don't quite figure out until the last page. Then somewhat spoilt again by the somewhat heavy handed way the unreliableness of the narrator is constantly teased and referenced (so it's not a spoiler) while still making sure we don't quite get enough information to figure it all out.
I'm being too hard. I enjoyed it, but those were frustrations. I loved all the London geography, and the story is well put together - if pretty gruesome. And while I'll definitely read more of DC Lacey Flint, based on the ending of this book I fail to see how the series can continue without it revolving around a woman recently fired from the Met....more
This could so easily have been an average novel - or even a bad one - but I can confirm that it isn't. A blurb I read somewhere described it as a supeThis could so easily have been an average novel - or even a bad one - but I can confirm that it isn't. A blurb I read somewhere described it as a superhero origin story which is always going to turn some people off, but they shouldn't let it. I can't think of a single niggle in this book at all - the perfect novel maybe? Nick Harkaway certainly goes on my 'pull list'......more
The second of Louise's picks for me this year, and we're back to historical fiction again. Previously it was Cromwell's tale in Wolf Hall she picked aThe second of Louise's picks for me this year, and we're back to historical fiction again. Previously it was Cromwell's tale in Wolf Hall she picked and this time we step back to the Roman Empire in Robert Harris's story of Cicero's rise to power in the Roman senate. While it's no Wolf Hall, Imperium is an enjoyable read (and a pretty fascinating too) - looking forward to finding out what happens to Cicero in the next book(s)......more