A Few Random Favourites

By The Quiet Rising

By The Quiet Rising

Blood Meridian

Cormac McCarthy

£9.99 £9.29

It presents a world and people in brutal matter-of-factness. There is beauty in the violence, in the simple, uncomplicated, raw nature of the people and the atrocities they commit. There is no substantial judgement, leaving that to the reader. The novel is an intense experience that anyone who reads should undertake. The imagery will stay with you, the violence with stimulate and disgust you. The characters are mostly repellent, but entrancing. It is an intense journey through a poetic ruin of a world. It carries you along on a journey that, perhaps, you should not want to undertake, but will willingly continue once it starts.

Briarpatch

Ross Thomas and Thomas Ross

£15.99

The story of a Detective investigating his sister’s murder. The story has a different flavour than most, with the Detective having a background in Government/Business investigation. There is a cleanliness to the writing and plot that allows the characters to shine. It’s refined storytelling without the bloat of unnecessary detail or forced quirkiness that some authors use to shore up their work. It has class. A carefully constructed, elegant piece of writing.

The Book Of Skulls

Robert Silverberg

£8.99 £8.36

Four college students discover the existence of a cult that offers immortality, but that the price of this gift is that two of them will die. This is a surprisingly intense novel. All credit to the author because in the hands of lesser writer this could be a much simpler schlocky horror story. The story starts off from the assumption that this is going to turn out to be a joke or scam, but it subtly develops into a slow-burning tale that revolves around the inevitability of which two students will die. It deftly pulls you in and entangles you in the mystery of how this terminal quandary will be resolved. The characters are interesting; their journeys are entertaining to follow. The resolution, even if not providing a definitive answer to the issue of immortality, is satisfying and echoes beyond the novel. A welcome addition to any library.

Bryant & May - England's Finest: (Short Stories)

Christopher Fowler

£8.99 £8.36

Another enjoyable instalment in the careers of Bryant and May, England’s Finest is a collection of short stories featuring the characters of the ongoing series of detective novels. If you enjoy the novels, you will enjoy these stories. The setting and characters are well established. They are individuals that you can imagine existing in the real world. The crimes and situations are well constructed. There is no sense of being unfairly misdirected or tricked to make things seem more intriguing than they are. As usual, a major part of the enjoyment is trying to work out ‘how it was done’ before the reveal. A welcome addition to the Bryant & May universe, though probably best for regular readers of the series.

Fall or, Dodge in Hell

Neal Stephenson

£20.00 £18.60

More ambitious, speculative, science-fiction from Neal Stephenson. This one revolves around the death and electronic resurrection of the titular Dodge and the development of the technology that literally keeps his memory alive. Coupled with this is an exploration of the impact on the real-world of the creation and subsequent evolution of this same technology. The overall concept is interesting. My issues with the story arise from the fact that the real-world side of things is more interesting than what happens in the electronic world. This narrative is centred around the construction of a world to exist in and the seemingly inevitable conflict that it gives rise to. It just is not that interesting a tale. The real-world narrative explores the development of society as technology provides a way to survive our own extinction. The moral, ethical, and philosophical aspect of this is interesting and contains more vitality than the online narrative. I would still recommend the novel to anyone. Stephenson is a good writer and the ideas he explores are always worth exposing yourself to. At worst, this is an average novel for him, but one that for a lot of writers would rank as good.

The Peripheral

William Gibson

£8.99 £8.36

I find William Gibson somewhat infuriating as a writer. Although I love his work, I am often left thinking that there is a better story hovering behind the one I am reading. By that I mean, as with other of his novels, The Peripheral features a Thing, a MacGuffin. And even though the rest of the story is great, when I found out what the Thing does, I wanted to know more. There are some vague hints about where it came from, but it basically just exists because otherwise the story cannot happen. It feels unsatisfactory, frustrating. But, ultimately, the story is not about the Thing, it is about the effect on the world of the Thing. It is a fascinating world he has set up and the characters that inhabit it are ones you will care about or will be happy to see get their comeuppances. The technology of the Thing is fascinating and will stay in your mind beyond the story. The ethical and philosophical implications are food for thought. Happily recommended.

Piranesi: WINNER OF THE WOMEN'S PRIZE 2021

Susanna Clarke

£14.99 £13.94

A stranger in a strange land uncovers his own truth. Having last experienced Susanna Clarke’s writing in the hefty form of ‘Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell’ (Strange), this slimmer volume initially seems as if it will be slighter experience. Happily, it is not. The story takes place on a smaller scale in terms of cast and setting, but it takes place in a much larger world of ideas. Being built around the idea of another world, it echoes of the magical aspect of Strange, but this time on a much more personal level. It is an elegantly told story with a satisfying resolution that plants certain notions that bear out further investigation. Enjoy it and ponder the ideas within.

The Thursday Murder Club: The Record-Breaking Sunday Times Number One Bestseller

Richard Osman

£14.99 £13.94

Getting old can be murder. The residents of a retirement home spend their Thursday’s trying to solve cold cases. The murder of a man on their proverbial doorstep gives them an opportunity to put their, sometimes all too applicable, skills to real world use. The story takes place in and around a retirement home and most of the cast are residents, which gives the story a different spin than most. As well as the murder mystery, you get glimpses into the lives of the cast, highlighting some of the issues of growing old; declining health, the ever-present past, the relationships between generations, the cruelty of Alzheimer’s. The writing is brisk and carries the reader along. There is the usual misdirection and red-herringry that you would expect, but the resolution is satisfactory. The characters are entertaining and people you would want to know and meet again. It is not a revolutionary take, but the execution is superior to many. Its success guarantees that there will be more in the series and the inevitable TV adaptation cannot be long in coming. Overall, I would recommend it.

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