Thursday, 30 April 2015

Book review - Whisky From Small Glasses, by Denzil Meyrick

This detective thriller from a recently emerged new author is both cleverly thought out and deftly executed. Am unidentified dead woman is found washed up on the shore of a small community. As the investigation into her identity and death develops, we see in tandem with it the drawing out of the tormented relationship between the detective and his wife; a classically dysfunctional marriage, where a strong mutual love is damaged and obscured by layer upon layer of misunderstanding and miscommunication.

The work is gritty and realistic, with the pungency of the language used by the investigating police contributing to a grainy depiction of police life that I found most believable. Along the way, texture and interest are added by cameo portraits of local characters, all drawn with loving attention to detail.

I did think there could have been a little less insistence on textual depiction of the Scots accent. Most people know what a heavy Scots accent sounds like; I felt a hint here and there would have been sufficient to evoke its rich sounds, rather than a Dickensian adherence to phonetic spellings that in its extent was a little irritating, at least to this reader.

All round a most promising debut and I look forward with pleasure to further DCI Daley cases.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Book review - Confessions of a Freelance Penmonkey, by Chuck Wendig

Packed with useful advice for writers, Confessions of a Freelance Penmonkey is a collection of articles taken from the author's blog, terrible minds.

Wendig's off-the-wall, foul-mouthed ranting style is, as always, highly entertaining. He doesn't pull punches, and is the literary equivalent of Gordon Ramsay.

In the instant book, each article is backed up by a calmer, saner, commentary, which I found good, as Wendig's blog style, while lovable in the extreme when one's reading a short article, became, for me, rather tedious when maintained through a whole book, rather as half-hour comedy shows are when germinated from a three minute sketch. Vide Kingswood Country, Fawlty Towers. Be that as it may, most of the content is, when you scrape off the hyperbole about goat-shagging robot aardvarks, deeply sensible. I didn't agree with all of it - we all have our own ways of working - but I could respect all of it, and even found a few ideas I will probably try out.

What made me sad, though, and the reason I've only given the book three stars instead of the four it would otherwise have earned from me, was Wendig's careless approach to the presentation of his work. Despite fulminating about the importance of editing, of multiple drafts and of quality generally, this writer, writing a book about how to be a better writer, used 'lay' intransitively, 'you're' where 'your' was required, and 'effects' instead of 'affects'.

As a working writer myself, I didn't allow this sloppiness to take away from the value of the content, but given the subject matter, I do feel it is bound to affect (NOT 'effect') the author's credibility.

Confessions of a Freelance Penmonkey is available from AMAZON.

Friday, 24 April 2015

Book Review - Palatine, by L J Trafford

An historical novel set in a really interesting period is always a treat when it's well done, and Palatine certainly doesn't disappoint. Set immediately before the Year of the Four Emperors, the book chronicles the events leading up to the unrest that resulted in that turbulent year.

As an historical novel it's interesting, but it is purely as a novel that this work really shines. Trafford, avoiding the mistake common to so many tyros of historical fiction, does not confine her cast of characters to the main players, but uses more humble types - slaves and freedmen, a prostitute, and so on - to tell the story in a way that results in a delightful narrative that often had me laughing out loud.

Funny but never farcical, earthy without descending into outright vulgarity, Trafford combines a sure, firm hand on the reins with a lightness of touch that made this book a joy to read.

Palatine will release on 22 June, and will be available from Amazon and from KARNAC BOOKS .