You may have heard that these are very short stories, sometimes as little as a sentence or two, a few make it to all of two pagTending to 3-1/2 stars.
You may have heard that these are very short stories, sometimes as little as a sentence or two, a few make it to all of two pages. The stories are often amorphous, leaving the reader to piece together how (or if) the stories relate to faith and God. You mileage will vary (and you may not get any mileage at all if you have neither faith nor God). Many of the stories can serve as a springboard to meditation, and you'll probably get more out of the book if you spend time thinking about the story you've just read before going on to the next. Perhaps if I've spent more time thinking about the individual tales, I might have even given the book a better rating....more
The book could have been four stars for me—it’s not as if there’s nothing to like in it. We have a cast of interesting characters, a wonderful locatioThe book could have been four stars for me—it’s not as if there’s nothing to like in it. We have a cast of interesting characters, a wonderful location (to my knowledge the Shetlands have not yet been explored in this genre), and Cleeves is an experienced writer who knows how to work with the archetypes of murder mystery.
But ultimately I found the book unsatisfactory. The characters, for all their potential, seemed relatively superficially drawn. Well-written passages alternated with stretches of text in need of tightening up and, frankly, some basic copy editing. Finally, I’m not convinced that the final resolution of the tale was that compelling—I have a feeling that two or three other characters could just have well been written in as the perp just as convincingly (although Cleeves’ solution to the story may grow on me yet).
I picked up the book having seen one of the TV adaptations. A little surprisingly, I’m more attracted to the filmed version, but that may be partly because of Douglas Henshall’s performance (never mind that Henshall’s physical resemblance to the Jimmy Perez of the books is, well, a bit tenuous… I can't imagine that Douglas has a drop of Spanish blood in his veins). In the end, I’m not sure if I’ll follow up with more of either the book or TV versions. ...more
Highly recommended. Of course I picked up the book having seen the film Bridge of Spies, and wanting to work out how much of the film was Coen BrotherHighly recommended. Of course I picked up the book having seen the film Bridge of Spies, and wanting to work out how much of the film was Coen Brothers' invention and how much was Donovan. Closest thing to a spoiler: Joel and Ethan did quite a bit to "sexy up" the tale to make it a Hollywood blockbuster. The book is more stolid, in particular taking pains to clarify the legal issues involved in the Abel case.
Once we're through Abel's trials and appeals, the recounting of the exchange negotiations (and the lead up) made for compelling reading. Caveat lector: that's the smaller part of the book. (Caveat bis: iBooks listed this as a thriller, but it's not really "thriller" material, if that's what you're looking for)
On the whole it's a truly fine book, an strong reminder of what the tensions between world powers were like in those days, and highly relevant to today’s atmosphere of distrust (then it was the "commies," today we've got a couple of antagonists to choose from: Russians, Arabs, Muslims, refugees, and my UK friends would probably add the EU…).
Main take away for the film: Mark Rylance gave not only a compelling performance, but one very true to the original character. Tom Hanks also gave a great performance, but I felt perhaps taking a bit more liberty in shaping the character. ...more
Redeeming factors: competently, at times even engagingly written; reasonably complex plot (although the main "surprise" is a common enough twist in whRedeeming factors: competently, at times even engagingly written; reasonably complex plot (although the main "surprise" is a common enough twist in whodunnits that I was considering it from fairly early on); and a nice touch in that Morse doesn't get everything right, not even at the end. That may be enough to get many readers through the book, perhaps even with considerable pleasure. (Dexter also gets an extra quarter star for using Oxford spelling and commas, and for having the protagonist insist on such fine points of letters.)
But Dexter is locked into in the prejudices and preconceptions of an era that, one would have thought, had already passed by the mid-1970s. Indeed, he seems to revel in the biases of a time that should have been bygone when he was writing. In Dexter's world, men with a sexual preference for other men are immediately presumed to be pederasts. There are no exceptions. And Dexter seems to find it perfectly acceptable to describe the color of an article of clothing through a term of race long since derided as derogatory (never mind that the "N" word covers such a wide variety of skin hues that I have no idea what the skirt in question actually looked like). Finally, as in Dexter's other novels, women are uniformly passive (and, seemingly, none able to say "no" to a sexual proposition, ever). I realize that there are many acquiescent and "easy" women, but by the time of writing the sexual revolution had long since arrived and feminism was making headway, even in conservative Oxford. Even a single female role displaying a bit of character or self-determination would have made a welcome change. (OAPs who egregiously dominate their daughters don't count. And recall that, although some streams of feminist thought encouraged sexual freedom, this was not identical to what Dexter's characters would consider "wanton" behavior. Never mind that those characters would probably have not been able to tell the difference...)
Authors will, of course, reflect the time in which they write. Great authors, while reflecting their time are also able to, at least in one way or another, transcend it. Dexter seems stuck in a world that had long since moved on. Shame that. ...more