Tuesday, February 22, 2005

3eads or threads

This post (as the name does not easily explain) is about 3 reads/ three reads....

The weekend before we jetted off to HongKong V and I went to Greenwhich Market. A not so secret attraction of Greenwich market is that beside the weekend food market there are a few bargain bookshops which sell paperbacks for about £3 each. Here's the 3 I got and read (hence 3eads!)

Book 3: Fury by GM Ford
I had previously read one of Ford’s novels from the Leo Waterman series and enjoyed that immensely. So when I chose this book I expected Fury to be of a similar genre and voice and overall an easy-read American crime novel. Fury introduces Frank Corso, a once shamed and now reclusive columnist and occasional reporter for the Seattle Sun is the star. Once fired from the New York Times for fabricating a story, he is hired by the Sun's owner, Natalie van der Hoven, who is convinced that despite everything Corso is an “unusually honourable man". So when Leanne Samples (thus far star witness) claims, six days before the death penalty is to be carried out, that her vital identification of Walter Leroy Himes as the Trashman serial killer was a lie, Natalie calls in her marker to get Corso to follow the story. Delving backwards into the original material that helped convict Himes, Corso comes across unusual resistance from the Seattle city administration – indicating that something more than an unfortunate miscarriage of justice is at stake...and of course, like any good hero, he and his assistant, Meg Dougherty, turn things around just in the nick of time.

The plot was just about satisfactory – what makes this book a good read was the pace. The twists and turns are definitely not new in the world of crime thrillers but Ford’s satirical world-view and descriptions of the world of Seattle’s graffiti artists are riveting. Corso was like any other hero. It is Meg Dougherty who stands out as a character to reckon with. She dominates the book as six feet of "pure Seattle Gothic", vitally contributing her knowledge of Seattle street life (and much else) to the case. Her background story is shadowy and interesting making her one of the more convincing characters to read.

This book was a good read but definitely not in the league of the best. My recommendation is to read it only if you come across it by chance, on someone’s bookshelf, or in a library. Don’t go looking for it.

Book 4: The Remorseful Day by Colin Dexter
I’m admittedly a Poirot (Agatha Christie) and an Inspector Wexford (Ruth Randall) fan. I have watched read some of the books (but don’t recall either names or plots) and watched some Inspector Morse episodes (TV serial version) with John Thaw but never found either gripping enough to remember or pursue more wholeheartedly. It was the words on the cover of this one ‘The final Inspector Morse novel’ that caught my eye. I plucked it off the bookshelf of the bargain bookstore and resolved to give it a chance as my holiday book (for Hong Kong).

Morse is an eccentric British detective, almost as enigmatic as any of the suspects and victims he encounters. The Remorseful Day was wonderful. It revisits the life and death of Yvonne Harrison (a nurse) whose murder has baffled the Thames Valley police for more than a year. The unsolved murder is abruptly reactivated by an anonymous phone call to Morse's superior, who gives Morse the case despite his stiff opposition to getting involved. Reluctantly, Morse begins to He finds that the victim's hyperactive sex life has provided a surprisingly large number of potential suspects, all of whom have had time to hide or confuse their tracks.

There is a timeless quality about this book. You don’t need to have read any of the others in the series to appreciate this one. It moves at a steady pace and brings together elements of puzzle, comedy, thriller, word-play, description and village atmosphere. Indeed an engaging read - much encouraged.

Book 5: Deception Point by Dan Brown
This is the least good of Dan Brown's books I have read so far. I was introduced to Dan Brown’s work with the Da Vinci Coade which I devoured over two nights in Madrid on holiday. That was an amazing book.

With other books clamouring to be read after Da Vinci, it has taken me almost 10 months to sit down with another Dan Brown novel. And I am disappointed beyond belief. Deception Point felt as if it had been written to a formula for thrillers. The style seemed set and stilted by comparison with Da Vinci.

The whole plot is wrapped around the structures of power in Washington D.C. - the White House, presidential candidates, governmental agencies such as NASA and NRO. The basic plot is that NASA is coming under serious review for its huge spending and not-so-magnificent results. A Presidential candidate is scheming to change NASA’s future drastically and make space exploration a private venture. The incumbent President is the proverbial good guy and he recruits the Presidential candidate’s daughter (the daughter can't stand her father so there's no love lost) into his scheme to save NASA.

The central plot of the book is a discovery, conveniently by NASA, of a certain object buried in the ice somewhere in the Arctic zone. The discovery begins in a certain way, only to quickly reveal itself as something else entirely, which is exactly the fuel needed for the twisted plot to take off.

For fans of the genre, the book will be an entertaining read. Dan Brown is a confident writer, using typical tools building a thriller with a ever turning plot. The book is peppered with James Bond-ish hi-tech technologies supposedly used by the US defence forces. A notice at the beginning of the book claims that "all technologies described in this novel exist." While this could certainly be the case the book is far-fetched in dimension, relying on deception on rather a massive scale and in rather exalted circles and that makes it almost science fictional in nature.

Suffice it to say that this is a bestseller and I imagine that a lot of people will love it. It was not my favourite Dan Brown book by a long shot and I will not return to it for a while. More seriously the other two Dan Browns in the series that I have not yet read (Angels and Demons) are in peril of remaining unread till I am inspired enough again.

Till Book 6.....keep reading!


  1. Anonymous11:23 PM

    Angels and Demons, is a better read than Deception Point, but falls short of the bar raised by Da Vinci code.
    Read it before you head to Rome, makes a few of the places a bit more interesting, not that one is ever bored in Rome....

  2. Thanks for the tip: Good to know A&D might make Rome more intersting. At the moment (and since no Rome trip is planned) so sorely was I disappointed by Deception Point that I am off Dan Brown books for a while yet!